This film is a mess. If I had to guess I would say it was edited in the dark by a child, a blind child, a blind child with ADHD, a blind child with ADHD, and a meth drip. The version I watched was an hour and three minutes so there is probably a good half an hour somewhere in a landfill in Hong Kong.
If I had to guess what they cut out, it would be the exposition, but fortunately, the plot is pretty straightforward. After a few scenes, you can figure out that a man named Eagle is on a journey to find and kill General Lung. General Lung apparently killed all of Eagle’s family. Nowhere in the film is there a man named Konan or any barbarians.
Konan The Barbarian Swordsman is basically just a series of fight scenes as a variety of people try to stop Eagle from finding General Lung. The fight choreography isn’t bad but the soundtrack is very odd. Each fight ends with Eagle sliding his sword back into its sheath as we hear the opening bars of Bach’s toccata and fugue in D minor.
The film is full of weird non-sequiturs like a street hustler with a Mexican accent. He doesn’t look Mexican (see below, he’s the one in the hat) but perhaps he spent some time there in his youth.
The film is definitely patterned on Italian spaghetti westerns. Lots of sweaty close-ups, squinting eyes, and lines spoken through unmoving faces. No one seems to have a back story or a motivation other than kill or be killed. At one point Eagle’s daughter, or maybe his wife prays to God who intervenes on her behalf and saves Eagle by sending a sand storm to bury him. Must have been the old testament god.
My favorite of Eagle’s opponents is the yellow ninja. I could tell he was a ninja because he was wearing a headband that had the word “Ninja” written in English across it. The movie takes place in Mongolia, a place not widely known for ninjas, but perhaps the label was there to avoid confusion. If it was, it didn’t.
So I did a little research and apparently Konan The Barbarian Swordsman is a prime example of an IFD film. I have surfed around trying to find out what IFD stands for but had no luck. It’s not Independent Film Distributors, that’s already taken by a company in the UK. I am also assuming it is not any of these other mysterious things I found online like: Infant Flow Driver, Induced Fit Docking, Ideal Free Distribution, Indentation Force Deflection, and Invasive Fungal Disease.
Whatever IFD stands for it is the name of a film production company based in Hong Kong that makes super low-budget martial arts movies. Apparently, a lot of their films are made by cobbling together scraps from other films, television programs, and footage they produced themselves. This of course goes a long way toward explaining what I saw in Konan The Barbarian Swordsman.
The company was run by three infamous characters, Joseph Lai, Godfrey Ho, and Betty Chan. The three collaborated on most of the productions including acting, directing, editing, producing, writing, and distribution. Here is a list of some of their titles. I recommend reading the list out loud and as quickly as you can.
Full Metal Ninja
Zombie vs. Ninja
Cobra vs. Ninja
Night of the Ninja
Ninja Strike Force
Ninja: Silent Assassin
Ninja Operation: Licensed to Terminate
Ninja Operation 6: Champion on Fire
The Ninja Showdown
The Ninja Squad
The Ultimate Ninja
The Power of Ninjitsu
Ninja the Protector
Rage of Ninja
Ninja Operation 7: Royal Warriors
Diamond Ninja Force
Golden Ninja Warrior
Challenge of the Ninja
The Leopard Fist Ninja
Secret Ninja, Roaring Tiger
The Deadly Silver Ninja
The Blazing Ninja
Thunder Ninja Kids: The Hunt for the Devil Boxer
Ninja of the Magnificence
As is often the case with such schlockmeisters, IFD has a cult following of freaks who enjoy this crap and I am afraid the cult has already stamped my membership card. There is no point in fighting it. I guess I’ll have to copy down the list and begin seeking them out. Mine is a long row to hoe.
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