Seven Swords is a Chinese action film directed by Tsui Hark and adapted from the novel Seven Swords of Mount Heaven by renowned Wuxia writer Liang Yusheng. The movie was the opening film to the 2005 Venice Film Festival and is a homage movie to Akira Kurosawa's 1954 film, Seven Samurai.
In the mid-1600s, the Manchurians have taken over sovereignty of China and established the Qing Dynasty. While many nationalist revolts still brew within the martial artists' community, the newly set-up government immediately imposes a Martial Arts Ban, forbidding the practice of martial arts altogether in order to gain control and order. Fire-Wind, a surrendered military official from the previous dynasty, sees this as an opportunity to make a fortune for himself by helping to execute the new law. Greedy, cruel, and immoral, Fire-Wind ravages the North-western China, and his next goal is to attack the final frontier, Martial Village.
Fu Qingzhu, a retired executioner from the previous dynasty, feels the need to put a stop to this brutality and sets out to save Bowei Fortress. He brings Wu Yuanyin and Han Zhiban from the village with him to the Heaven Mountains to seek help from Master Shadow-Glow, a hermit who is a master of swords and leads a group of disciples of great swordsmanship. Master Shadow-Glow agrees to help, and orders his four disciples to go. Together with Chu Zhaonan, Yang Yunchong, Mulong, and Xin Longzi, the "Seven Swords" is formed and their heroic journey begins.
The heroes return to Martial Village just in time to foil Fire-Wind's attack. In order to buy more time for the villagers to conduct their harvest and prepare for an exodus, the heroes advance to Fire-Wind's own outpost. Fu, accompanied by Han and Wu, stages a negotiation with Fire-Wind while the remaining heroes cause disarray within the fort by destroying supplies. During the raid, Chu comes across Green Pearl, discovering that she is a slave from Korea, just as he was. So begins their romance. While Chu is fluent in both Chinese and Korean, Green Pearl only speaks Korean. After Chu brings her to join the refugees of Martial Village, the refugees are distrustful of her because she is unable to communicate.
As they lead the entire village to the road of a safer place, they begin to encounter mysterious confusion. Food and water are poisoned, and trails of escape are marked with signs leading the enemy to them. They soon realize that there is an undercover spy, and the Seven Swords must identify him/her before Fire-Wind's army gets to them. Between this narrow gap of life and death, the situation is further complicated by the blossoms of love. Following a moment of passion with Chu, Green Pearl reveals where Fire-Wind keeps all of his treasure. Knowing that its destruction would mean a collapse of the general's army, he decides to go to their base to dispose of it. However, he falls into a trap and is captured, where he learns that his new lover was supposed to be a spy for the enemy. Nonetheless, he believes in her, and Green Pearl barely escapes with her life, having been inadvertently injured by Chu while she was protecting him from Fire-Wind. She manages to warn to the other Seven Swords and implores them to save their ally before succumbing to her wounds.
Determined to rescue their comrade, the Swords decide to go to Fire-Wind's military base where they engage in a battle with him and his army, while the rest of the villagers remain in hiding. During their absence, the true identity of the traitor becomes known, and he begins to systematically kill everyone of the village. Fortunately, Yufang, with the help of her students, manages to defeat him, catching him by surprise with a sword. As she loathes violence and needless killing, the experience mentally scars her. Back at the base, Yang confronts Fire-wind, whom is armed with Chu's sword, while the rest of the seven defeat his lieutenants. Unsheathing his own blade for the first time, both have an even battle, equal in their swords and their skills. After a time, Chu then interferes, prompting Yang to give him his sword so that Chu may "take back what is (his)." Proving to be the better swordsman, he manages to best the general after a fierce fight. Not willing to go quietly, Fire-wind makes one last attempt on Chu's life, but Yang manages to intervene at the last moment.
With Fire-wind and his army defeated, the Seven Swords return to the hiding spot to find a crazed Yufang and all the children; the only survivors of the village. Han manages to calm her, and Chu cremates Green Pearl afterward. He spreads her ashes near the border of Korea before returning to join his allies. Together, the group realizes that the only way for them to know peace would be to go and convince the emperor to repeal his edict. Although Wu decides to go with them, Han resolves to stay behind in order to protect what's left of the villagers. Believing that the Swords should not be separated, Yufang implores for him to go with them, insisting that her and the children could take care of themselves now. Eventually, Han relents, and he rejoins his six allies before they ride off towards the capital.
Directed by Tsui Hark - Produced by Tsui Hark - Written by Cheung Chi-Sing, Hun Tin Naam, Liang Yusheng - Starring Donnie Yen, Leon Lai, Charlie Yeung - Music by Kenji Kawai, Cinematography Keung Kwok-Man