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Mastering Two Languages, Eating Nasi Goreng & Training Blind With Joe Taslim And Jang Hyuk For The Swordsman
 Fumiko なにOctober 17, 20208 min read


It’s rare to see actors that can pull off being Korea’s heartthrob or even Indonesia’s Oppa, and yet prove to be excellent martial artists. What’s rarer still is seeing two actors from these two very different countries share a screen, much less come together in an epic clash that is The Swordsman, a newly released sword-fighting period action film.

Jang Hyuk and Joe Taslim are familiar faces in the realm of martial arts films. Jang Hyuk landed his first leading role as the main character of martial arts action comedy film, Volcano High (2001); while Taslim found his breakthrough role in the award-winning Indonesian action-thriller, The Raid (2011). Taslim was even a professional athlete on the Indonesia Judo national team before his acting days and both were unfazed by the COVID-19 season and charged ahead to develop The Swordsman.


For Jang Hyuk, it all boils down to having the right mindset and work ethics. “My first contact with stunt work was actually a traumatic one. During my first action film, Volcano High, 20 years ago, my stunt double got badly injured.” Yet, the stunt man pushed through to finish his stunt. “This made me very impressed and I realised that stunts are part of an actor’s role. So I started training very hard daily and doing my own stunts.”


Which explains The Swordsman, a detail-oriented, beautifully choreographed film filled with spectacular fight sequences and complex characters. We see the two actors, pit against each other in an escalating deathmatch. Jang Hyuk plays the titular character, Tae-Yul, a retired swordsman with deteriorating eyesight who is forced to take up his sword once again in order to save his daughter while Joe Taslim plays Gurutai, a Manchurian gang leader whose quest to find the greatest swordsman indirectly orchestrates the kidnapping of Tae-Yul’s daughter.  


If the actors could describe the movie in one word Taslim will say that it’s Elegant (or violent) while Jang Hyuk feels that it’s full of Passion. During The Swordsman press conference, the two charismatic stars themselves shared with us more about their thoughts and experiences regarding the filming process and what comes after. 

In a strange parallel, during the filming of the final battle between Gurutai and Tae-Yul, Jang Hyuk was accidentally wounded by Taslim. Both actors noted how it was the hardest scene for them as both characters were the top craftsmen of swordplay. Hence, the scene demanded tremendous speed and agility, more so than the rest, as it was their final scene shot just before filming wrapped.

Jang Hyuk expressed his gratitude that Taslim allowed him to rest for a bit but Taslim recalled that day rather differently, praising his co-star his fortitude as an action actor.


“The fight got faster and faster and we got lost inside the characters and I got so into it I accidentally hurt Jang Hyuk. But Jang Hyuk said he was ok and straight away came back to fight, unlike what other big stars who will need a lot of time to recover.” He even expressed that an actor of Jang Hyuk’s calibre makes him the best action actor in Korea, high praise coming from an established martial artist.


Both actors forged a stronger bond after the epic conclusion. “Action scenes [are] a dance, the chemistry needs to be strong and luckily Jang Hyuk had good energy, we could feed off each other.”

And while martial arts is no stranger to Taslim, this is actually the first time that the actor has to fight with a sword. He felt that he could “level up, [and] gained more skills in swordsmanship” with the shooting. “Gurutai was the biggest challenge of my life. The character speaks two languages I don’t speak.”


Being in a foreign language film and setting, Taslim even went so far as to research a lot about the Qing dynasty and the Manchurian language. His focus was to understand the language through the motivations of the character. He even brought his recording everywhere to listen to. 


His efforts clearly paid off. Taslim was able to master the pronunciation of not just the Korean language but even the Manchurian language that even locals struggle with. Even Jang Hyuk noted that “Joe’s Korean is amazing” and there were barely any communication issues. Moreover, the star felt that action goes beyond language, it’s fundamentally an emotional thing.


And not to be outdone, Jang Hyuk also had some special preparations done for his role. In order to play the partially blind Tae-Yul, the actor trained in swordplay with his vision blurred or blocked. He even practised subtlety with his facial expressions.


Full of praise for each other, the friendly banter went to and fro as Jang Hyuk thanked Taslim for being very considerate and humble. He felt that it was an honour to finally be able to fulfil his wish of acting alongside Taslim.


“Believe it or not, before we started on this project, I saw Joe’s first Indonesian movie, The Raid and I thought,  ‘This guy’s amazing, it would be great if I could work with him!’ And maybe it was karma, it all worked out and I got to work with him on this project,” says Jang Hyuk. 

He elaborated on how Taslim constantly trains himself. 


“And he learns, he’s a fast learner. The way he expressed Gurutai was great. The reason my character was able to be expressed the way it was, and I was able to act the way, is because he really expressed Gurutai to the best of anyone’s ability. So it was a very happy moment and it was also very thrilling to shoot all these with Joe. Joe is not acting just to show but embracing every moment”. 


Taslim shoots back with an anecdote on how he saw Jang Hyuk diligently discussing dramatic action with the director during dinner and throughout the shoot. “In this movie, what I learnt is trying to moderate the physical stuff. I learnt that from Jang Hyuk Hyung. To try to get that information first before you shoot the movie.” 


He continues, “To discuss that is very important, and I learnt that from Jang Hyuk Hyung. During dinner, I saw them discussing the movie together. My translator said that they were discussing the action that we were about to shoot. And wow! To be constantly discussing the action means that you need to give your heart to it. And it’s not just about showing off, not just about two people with flashy movement but its more than that. It’s what I learnt in this project from my Hyung.”


The already humble actor felt that he learnt to understand character motivation and plot points in order to moderate the action. He even recounted how the entire Korean cast and crew were like one big family, with Jang Hyuk as his “big brother in terms of acting”.


“In order to play in that kind of fight, I have to be very confident in terms of the drama, at the same time, I need to be very fast, I need to go all out but at the same time, I know that this is a dance. Action scene 101 is that it needs to be a dance, and the chemistry has to be so strong. And I was so lucky that working with Jang Hyuk Hyung gave me that energy. He gave me that action and reaction. And we did it so nicely.”


When asked if they related to their characters, Jang Hyuk immediately speaks of how he understood Tae-Yul’s internal struggle of wishing to move away from the world yet trying to protect his loved ones.

Taslim followed by saying that in terms of personality, he is a comedian in real life. Hence he couldn’t relate to Gurutai’s menacing manner. But he felt like he shared Gurutai’s fascination with the martial arts. (even if Gurutai did go off with it in a bad way)


“We can see that the guy is not just a monster. He is only to his enemy, but is probably a teddy bear to the girl he loves.”

The conversation moved on to visiting Korea and Indonesia. Surprisingly, Jang Hyuk visited Bali, Indonesia for about 10 days on a job. He found the entire seaside experience very relaxing and warming. He even recommended fans to try Nasi Goreng with egg, a dish that Singaporeans will surely appreciate too!

Similarly, Taslim loved his Korea experience and noted that the country is very modern. So, it isn’t very hard to communicate in English even though he had a translator. He feels so comfortable there with the food and friends that he “can stay there easily, as it feels like home”.


Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, both actors are optimistic about the future of cinema. They feel that The Swordsman will find its way into the hearts of both local and international audiences. Jang Hyuk even expressed interest in portraying Tae-Yul again in sequels to “explore the character on a deeper level”.





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The Swordsman screening at the opening of Korea-Indonesia Film Festival from 28-31 Oct 2020.


Opening Day: Wed, 28 October 2020 to be screened in Bandung
- Performance
- Greetings from ambassador, CGV & film person (Joe Taslim)
- Movie trailer and explanation by CGV
- The Swordsman movie screening in Bandung





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To me, modern action has nothing on period pugilistic pieces. Guns, lasers, cars and bombs rarely need skill, and filmmakers often depend on bigger explosions to one-up excitement. The clash of fists and swords in comparison, feels more elegant, and often results in a more satisfying payout. They are called martial arts for a reason.


It’s been a while since a title with a focus on sword fighting has come out from South Korea, and The Swordsman pulls no punches in delivering this key theme. Casting the charismatic Jang Hyuk in the lead as Joseon’s greatest swordsman, it’s a stylish piece decorated with heart-racing sequences and some inventive sword work. The story takes place in a chaotic slice of Joseon’s history, when the warring factions of the Ming and Qing Dynasties were suppressing the Korean monarchy. After the King Gwanghae falls to the schemes of his own ministers, his most trusted guard Tae-yul (Jang Hyuk) flees into the mountains with his infant daughter under his instruction.


After years of isolation, Tae-yul’s eyes deteriorate, and the now grown-up Tae-ok (Kim Hyun-soo) insists he seeks treatment in their nearby town. He reluctantly does so, and gets his first glance of Qing envoy and slave trader Kurutai (Joe Taslim), who happens to have a fondness for seeking out skilled sword fighters. Fortunately, our hero manages to slip away discreetly from his attention.

But circumstances sees Tae-ok being taken away as tribute and forces Tae-yul’s hand, so the father works up the hierarchy using his walking stick, and eventually unsheaths his sword against tougher opponents to save the girl. An old royal commander, Min Seung-ho (Jung Man-sik), catches sight of the Tae-yul and recognises the swordsman. Disillusioned by the new ministry, he begins to track down Tae-yul to uncover an old secret and perhaps settle an old score.


The Swordsman carries within it several threads, bundled in a decent plot which does get a little unclear at parts. The initial coup d’etat was brief with its motivations, and dignitaries had ambiguous agendas that would have benefited with better introductions. Thankfully, the main plot of a father’s sacrifice for his charge is clearly demonstrated, and something which Jang Hyuk strongly identifies within himself and presents remarkably.


We see Jang Hyuk’s brooding swordsman played with restraint, with an added layer of torture given his failing eyesight. This conundrum plays up tension well on the screen, disabling a figure with almost superhero skills with an achilles heel, but the actor also delivers richness with his nuanced expressions, even going as far as to blur his vision during practice to get a better sense of how his character should react during these fights.


On how he injects intensity with such subdued expressions, Jang Hyuk shares with MovieXclusivethat this partly comes from how he approaches every movie as his first and having that same level of enthusiasm. “I‘ve also grown over the last 20 years from my life experience,” the actor shared. “I believe it has helped me express myself with more nuance on the screen and I hope you will continue to enjoy my performances.”


But if there is a contender for our attention, it would be the sword fighting sequences. The choreography here is a treat to watch. Tae-yul’s natural gift in martial arts lets him imbue his sword-fighting with unorthodox flair, and this flummoxes his opponents, but the wise king admires the freedom from the lack of discipline. It is expressed with swift flows as much as clashing strength, sharp jabs as well as fluid slashes, creating sparring episodes that are exciting and poetic - very much what makes these films so riveting. The boss fight is particularly inventive, and The Swordsman gives a refreshing update to the genre without trying too hard.


Another standout is Indonesian actor Joe Taslim, who possesses his own unique gravitas. His Kurutai is enriched with a natural admiration for great swordplay, which makes for a less straightforward but equally compelling villain journey. He presents this with supernatural charisma, making him a character you’ll love to hate, and this magnetic presence lets him hold his own against his South Korean co-stars. My only complaint - that his final fight with Tae-yul a tad short, because it was really that good. 




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[Press Conference] THE SWORDSMAN: When Emotion is Harder than Language for Jang Hyuk

In less than a week, Indonesia is finally ready to welcome latest movie from Jang Hyuk, The Swordsman. Starring not only Jang Hyuk, but also Kim Hyun Soo, BTOB’s Minhyuk, Jeong Man Sik, Jang Hyun Sung, and Indonesia’s top movie star, Joe Taslim, on his Korean movie debut, The Swordsman tells story about best swordsman, Tae Yul, who picks up his sword again to save his daughter from Qing’s family member, Gurutai.


Working with Each Other the First Time

On an earlier virtual press conference, Korean Updates got to hear stories behind the movie from the stars themselves, Jang Hyuk and Joe Taslim. Jang Hyuk said that before working with Joe Taslim, he tried to watch The Raid, which Joe starred in in 2011. Jang was deeply impressed by Joe’s performance there and was excited to film an action movie with the star. Jang was even more ecstatic after the filming started, as he said, Joe is a very humble, down-to-earth figure, who is amazing on set. Jang said, thanks to Joe’s incredible performance, they could shot best action scene. Jang expressed how he felt honored to be able to work with Joe, an established actor who is already active working in Hollywood.


Both stars didn’t have enough compliments for each other with Joe also expressing his admiration to Jang Hyuk, who never failed to show his determination in working on the movie. Joe said Jang discussed a lot of things with the director and it was fascinating for him how Jang was willing to truly understand the story behind every action scene and bring the understandings to screen. “I want to bring that attitude while working in the future,” said Joe.


Tae Yul and Kurutai

Jang Hyuk told us that he could relate with his character Tae Yul, who does his best to protect the one he loves, while Joe Taslim said how he loves his character Kurutai because even as a villain, the character has some layers that makes him interesting. Joe felt really nice to play a character with prominent color and expects viewers to understand his character later after they watched the movie.

On working together with Joe, Jang Hyuk said that rather than feeling burdened by the language barrier, it was harder to match their emotion when acting. “Joe is the type of actor that really embrace every scene and his performance, so we talked a lot about the emotional expression when we worked together,” Jang Hyuk said. Both agreed that filming the final scene was the hardest for them because of how intense it was. Joe’s Kurutai was supposed to be in a great fit in that scene, so with the tremendous speed that Joe performed it was kind of hard for Jang Hyuk to shoot it. Both actors said they feel fortunate to have each other for the scene as it required a great chemistry.


The Swordsman, Debut, and Movie Industry


When asked of how they would describe the movie in 1 word, Joe Taslim chose elegant because even though The Swordsman is quite a violent movie, but it has much more than that, while Jang Hyuk expressed it as passion.

Making his debut in Korean movie industry with The Swordsman, even though he admitted that it was hard for him to act in languages that he doesn’t use, Joe Taslim wishes more Indonesian actors can work in Korean movie seeing how big the industry has become. Joe said how he loves the vibe that he get while working for Korean movie, just as he does in Indonesian movies.


Jang Hyuk and Joe Taslim wrapped up the conference with hopes for everyone to be healthy and for them to meet their fans soon. Jang Hyuk said that more than being a mere good movie, he believes that The Swordsman has a great story that viewers can relate to.

The Swordsman will officially be released in Indonesia on October 29, with advanced screening exclusive as opening title at Korea Indonesia Film Festival 2020, which will be held offline at CGV Paris van Java and CGV Kings Shopping Center on October 28. Watch The Swordsman only at CGV, Cinepolis, FLIX, Kota Cinema, & more cinemas from October 29!



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Nice article about The Swordsman:


Jang Hyuk, Joe Taslim share behind-the-scenes view of action in ‘The Swordsman’


How would you feel if your loved one suddenly disappears?

Tae-yul (Jang Hyuk), the greatest swordsman during the Joseon dynasty, knows that feeling well. In the action movie The Swordsman, Tae-yul’s only daughter Tae-ok (Kim Hyeon-soo) is kidnapped by a cold-blooded slave trader Gurutai (Joe Taslim). With his limited vision, Tae-yul is determined to find his daughter, which also means facing Gurutai, whose sword-fighting prowess is not to be underestimated.

Helmed and penned by Choi Jae-hoon, The Swordsman is set amid a conflict between the Qing and Ming dynasties after the fall of the Joseon dynasty’s King Gwanghae.

Shooting kicked off in 2017, and the movie was chosen as the opener for the 2020 Korea-Indonesia Film Festival on Wednesday.

Korean actor Jang Hyuk, who performed the stunts himself, collaborated with the film’s stunt team to come up with a new type of swordsmanship. Jang said the new swordsmanship was tailored to Tae-yul’s character, meaning it had to be flexible as he didn’t fixate on one style.

“We wanted it to be very plausible. ‘How is he going to overcome this challenge? We know it’s hard, but is it really plausible?’,” Jang said during an exclusive interview with The Jakarta Post on Oct. 12. “I think that was really fun and interesting.”

As the main protagonist, Tae-yul’s actions speak louder than his words. With his eyesight mostly gone, he relies on his senses and speed in fights. This prompted Jang to train without his vision during preparation. In playing the character, Jang said he tried to be subtle with his facial expressions. His actions were also meant for survival rather than showing off.

The Swordsman is the first Korean film for Indonesian actor Joe Taslim. Preparing for his role as Gurutai, Joe did a lot of research about the Qing dynasty and its languages, including the Manchurian language. As he found it difficult to learn a new language in two to three months, Joe decided to focus on his lines, especially their intonation and structure. He made a habit of recording the pronunciation and listening to them daily. Alongside doing research and learning a new language, Joe also had to train with swords for the first time. With the film’s stunt team, he trained on a daily basis.

Joe stated that Gurutai is an antagonist with layers and he could relate to the character as he shared the same fascination of martial arts. “He loves martial arts so much. He always tries to be the best, though in the film he tries to be the best swordsman in a cunning way,” Joe said during a press conference. “As for me, I want to be the best in what I do. I train myself to be the best and challenge myself every day.”

Additionally, Joe learned a lot from Jang, whom he regarded his “big brother in terms of acting, experience and action”. He admired Jang for being proactive in sparking discussions with the director and exploring his character. “It’s fascinating, because what I learned was great. Action is not just action. […] We see badass action for sure, but we want to see the drama inside the action. We want to see why this character survives, why a character kills,” Joe said.

As for Jang, he praised Joe for being considerate to ensure that every scene went smoothly. “Everybody recognized him as an amazing actor. He’s excellent, but it was his attitude that really impressed me. He wasn’t acting just to show, but to truly embrace the entire moment,” Jang said.

When asked what was the most challenging scene for them, both answered the final fighting scene between Tae-yul and Gurutai.

“In the actual scene, I got hurt a bit – there was a bit of an accident,” Jang said. “Even in that situation Joe was very considerate. He let me take a break and recover, because by that scene, Tae-yul and Gurutai had attained a tremendous level in their martial art. That was the most memorable scene for me.”

Joe commented that he had to be highly confident and fast for that particular scene. He said the one-on-one action scene was like “a dance scene” that required strong chemistry between the actors. Both got carried away by their characters and their movements got faster and faster. “I was so lucky to be able to work with Jang Hyuk, who gave me the energy, action and reaction. We did it splendidly, though I accidentally injured his eye,” said Joe. “After treating his wound, he immediately returned to the scene.”

The Swordsman is available at CGV Cinemas starting from Oct. 29. (wng)  




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  • Prettysup changed the title to [Movie 2020] The Swordsman 검객 - Jang Hyuk, Joe Taslim & Kim Hyun-soo

Jang Hyuk's power is showing at the Home Theatres instead of the Cinemas


Jang Hyuk is the current trend in the small screen.


The film "The Swordsman (directed by Choi Jae-hoon)" starring actor Jang Hyuk opened in the cinemas on September 23 and ended with a cumulative audience of 190,000. Although it was screened during the Chuseok holidays, it failed to make much impact in the cinemas due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So it seemed destined to be among one of the several unsuccessful films. However it revolted on the small screen. As soon as the IPTV and digital cable TV VOD services were launched on Nov. 5, 'The Swordsman' topped the box office of the online home theater. From Nov 5 to 23, it cliched the top spot without fail, even beating 'Pawn' which it lost to during the Chuseok holidays cinema.


In general, performance on IPTV and digital cable TV VOD is not much different from their performances in the cinemas. It is rare for a movie that has not been successful in cinemas to be a big hit in the small screen. The industry's formula is that only films which had been successful in cinemas can be successful in the home theatres However, 'The Swordsman' was different. The movie topped the list, beating well-known films such as "Silence" and "International Investigation," which were sufficiently promoted during cinemas' screening.

"The Swordsman" is a real chase action film that begins when Tae-yul, the best swordsman in Joseon who turned his back on the world, raises his sword again to find his lost daughter after the deposed of Gwanghaegun. Jang Hyuk's action performance is excellent enough to be named as the Joseon verysion of "Taken". In other words, action actor Jang Hyuk's performance instantly captivated the audience.


It is thanks to the good timing. With Corona 19 Pandemic, the pie in the IPTV and digital cable TV VOD markets has grown. Unlike the two-hour period when watched in the cinemas, the action movie can be better appreciated when watched comfortably on the small screen, is favored by the audience. In line with this, the heyday of action films took place. This is because although the narrative is simple, but it has many things to see. "Special Sources," starring Lee Jae-yoon, who started IPTV and digital cable TV VOD services at the same time as the theater's release, also quickly entered the seventh place in the box office of online theaters. Action films that have been produced in just a month or two targeting the IPTV market are also earning several times the production cost. Even if the reviews for the film are divided, Jang Hyuk's action is probably well-received, and it's natural that "The Swordsman" is doing well.


"The more empty cinemas are, the bigger the pie in IPTV revenue is," a film industry source said. We expect more films of the action genre to be made in the spotlight.





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Exclusive Trailer: THE SWORDSMAN Slashes Your Home Screens February 16th On Blu/VOD From Well Go USA

Coming to Blu-ray and digital next year from comtemporary Asian cinema specialists, Well Go USA, is debutante director Choi Jae-Hoon's The Swordsman, starring Jang Hyuk (Volcano High, The Flu). A veteran of the popular K-drama circuit, Jang Hyuk features here as the titular swordsman, an aging royal guard forced into retirement after a slip-up leads to the fall of a king. Driven into seclusion in the forest with his shame and failing eyesight, he's called back into action when the one thing he loves most, his young daughter, is captured by traffickers.


We've been given your exclusive first look at the new trailer for this exciting action film that features Jang in the lead with a special appearance from Indonesian badass Joe Taslim (The Raid, The Night Comes For Us, Fast & Furious 6) as a Qing swordsman looking to make a name for himself. It is packed with slicing and dicing action, and we can't wait to see the rest on February 16th when The Swordsman hits home screens on Blu-ray and digital.


Check out the details here, then check out the trailer below:


“[A] gritty action film filled with spectacular sword-wielding stunt work” ~ GEEK CULTURE
“… the right blend of exciting sword-wielding action, drama, and warrior’s code to satisfy the appetites of more die-hard genre fans.” ~ THE MOVIE BEAT
The Classic, Over-the-Top Historical Swordplay Action Film
Debuts on Digital, Blu-ray™ & DVD February 16
Includes a New English Dub!
PLANO, TEXAS (December 16, 2020) – There’s “never a dull moment” (The Movie Beat) in a “fun hybrid of mainstream historical drama and traditional martial arts action” (The Movie Hole) when the action-packed epic THE SWORDSMAN debuts on Digital, Blu-ray™ and DVD February 16 from Well Go USA Entertainment.  After failing to protect and prevent the downfall of the King, the best swordsman in Joseon leaves and lives in seclusion with his daughter in the mountains. As his eyesight begins to fail due to an old injury, his daughter seeks to find a treatment for him. When she is captured and taken away by a slave trader, THE SWORDSMAN is forced to raise his sword again in order to save her. “Jang Hyuk (Empire of Lust) swirls about as an unstoppable force of nature” (HanCinema) for first time writer/director Choi Jae-hoon, and the film also stars Kim Hyeon-soo (Be With You), Joe Taslim (The Raid: Redemption, Fast & Furious 6), Jeong Man-sik (Beasts Clawing at Straws), Lee Na-kyung (Battle for Incheon: Operation Chromite) and Lee Min-hyuk (A Love to Kill).


After being blinded in a coup against the king, Joseon’s greatest swordsman (Jang Hyuk) goes into hiding, far removed from his city’s anguish. But when traffickers kidnap his daughter, he has no choice but to unsheathe his sword once more.




The Swordsman, also known as Swordsmen or Geom-gaek in Korean, is both written and directed by Korean filmmaker Choi Jae-Hoon, making his feature directorial debut with this. The film already opened in Korea in September earlier this year. Well Go USA will release Choi Jae-Hoon's The Swordsman in select theaters + on VOD in the US starting on February 16th, 2021.




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  • Guest changed the title to [Movie 2020] The Swordsman 검객

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