Funimation // 1984 // 95 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 14th, 2011
It's a kung fu heart attack.
That tagline is meant to be taken literally, by the way. There's a guy who actually kills people with his heartbeat. And that's only the tip of the lunacy iceberg.
Two long-time, legendary Chinese warriors square off to settle, once and for all, who is the most lethal kung fu fighter in the world. On one side you have Yun Fei-yang (Hsu Sha-chaing), who I'm pretty sure is the titular Bastard Swordsman. Yun is a master of the Silkworm Skill, which is exactly what it sounds like: he attacks his enemies with silkworm ejaculate. On the other side is a crazy Chinese lord with the power to shoot special effects out of his hands.
To complicate matters, the deadly Japanese Ega Clan shows up to beat on some fools, led by the clan leader who has the fearsome power of a killer heartbeat that can cause grown men to spew cascades of blood.
There is nothing like a batsh*t crazy kung fu movie and this is a good one. While not quite up to the level of the current champ, Drunken Dragon (which features a guy named Doggy fighting a wizard in a rowboat), Return of Bastard Swordsman features some sky-high insanity and, most importantly, a ton of fighting.
It is in these numerous action scenes where the ridiculousness pours forth. During the plot-building downtime, you're looking at a ho-hum narrative about a crotchety old fart bragging about leveling up his kung-fu ability and a bunch of Japanese guys and their ninja henchmen talking trash about how much China sucks. Thankfully, there's not a lot of soft spots in between the clashes. And when the fists fly, all bets are off.
Here is what you can expect from the four main fighters:
Crazy Chinese Lord
The guy is a competitor, working to get to Level 10 just so he can defeat Yun, his arch enemy once and for all. He commands a legion of subservient henchmen who are -- surprise! -- incompetent.
Fatal Skill: Allows him to fire green and red laser beams from his hands.
Throne Attack: While seated in his opulent throne, he can levitate himself and barrel into his opponent at high speeds.
Reverse CPR: Using his Level 10 Fatal Skill power, he will cause his opponent to cough up his own heart!
A recluse, Yun isn't terribly interested in physical confrontation -- until his nemesis seeks him out and demands a smackdown. Then he is only too happy to oblige.
Silkworm Skill: Yun can shoot silk at his enemies. I suppose this is more damaging than it sounds because people seem pretty impressed by it.
Cocoon Jail: Blasting out silk, Yun engulfs his opponent in a fragile cocoon that can be punched through easily because, you know, it's made of silk.
Silk Spikes: Yun fires dozens of deadly, calcified silk spikes, impaling his enemy.
Ega Clan Leader
This fearsome a-hole seeks to kill civilians and prove to the Chinese that Japan rules.
Phantom Skill: He can turn his chest into an inflated, invulnerable cudgel, suitable for bludgeoning and erotic sponge baths.
Bosom Laser: A laser straight out of his bosom.
Cornholing Chest Stiffy: By concentrating his Phantom Skill and moving behind his opponent, the Clan Leader can expand his chest directly into his opponent's body (the specific anatomical route is thankfully left to the imagination) and cause massive internal hemorrhaging, forcing the victim to projectile vomit three quarts of blood like a commercial pressure washer.
The Fortune Teller
The Fortune Teller is renowned for his seer ability and joins forces with Yun to fend off the Japanese invaders.
The Killer Toothpick: It's his lone special move, but it's devastating. He can throw toothpicks into his opponent's eyes with devastating accuracy.
Impromptu Giant Drum Making: While in most contexts, this skill is useless, against the final bad guy, it comes in handy. Having discovered that the Ega Clan leader's Cornholing Chest Stiffy fatality is rendered benign from banging on large drums (for some reason) and with no drums handy, the Fortune Teller whips one together to aid in the defeat.
The DVD: an impressive, yet -- weirdly -- sporadically blurry 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, a stereo English track, a mono Mandarin track and no extras.
Return of Bastard Swordsman deserves a place on your Insane Kung Fu Movie shelf. And if you don't have an Insane Kung Fu Movie shelf, you're dead to me.
Not Guilty. Not coherent, either, but whatever.
Review content copyright © 2011 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Mandarin)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Not Rated