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Turns out that swords made out of meteor rock are particularly lethal. Who knew....?
Well Go USA / 101 Minutes / 2012 / Unrated / Street Date: December 4, 2012
Every five hundred years, there's a hunca-munca swordfighting tournament, and very early on in Wu Dang, it's clear that this event will be the big blowout setpiece of the movie. There are preliminary fights and maybe even some character development (kind of), but Wu Dang sets up its conceit very early on, and every event that follows leads up to the grudge match at the film's end.
This isn't anomalous as a story construction, of course, but Wu Dang lays it on pretty thick. Finding a mythic sword that was supposedly cobbled together with rocks from a meteor (!) is pretty cool, and there are some laudably acrobatic scenes in the movie that make it fun to watch, yet Wu Dang is neither playful enough to be fully diverting nor technically accomplished to the point of being narratively immersive. You'll want to see the big fight at the end, but you might fast-forward a bit on your way there.
Perhaps part of this particular subgenre of action film, though, relies on not taking the movie's plot oh so seriously. Paying attention to the narrative nuance of a movie like Wu Dang won't do you any favors, but as a switch-your-brain-off-and-enjoy ass-kicking festival, it might have some distinct value. This writer didn't think all that much of it, but that's probably because I wasn't invited to participate in the bimillenial swordfighting championship. I think I could take 'em....