The sword with no name was categorized in Action and Romance genre. However, those who have seen it might say otherwise. To me, this film is not a romance, nor is it action. Yes, it portrays love story between the two protagonists, and YES, it has epic action sequences. But those scenes are not the main story line at all.
To me, The Sword with No Name is a historical and political film depicting the relationship between Japan and Korea, as well as the power games between the king, the queen and the international influences.
For those who has Japan’s image of being polite, organize and systematic country, you might be surprised to know that in the past, Japan used to be the big Bully of Asia.
Many Stories were told of the savageness, cruelty, and heartlessness of the inhumane Japanese armies. Japanese Empire picked fights with almost every powerful country in the past, as if trying to prove something to the world.
I love to watch historical movies since they show many sides of history that I have never know of, and sometimes not quite a popular side.
The film’s main protagonist is Mu Myeong who is a specialized swordsman and a bounty hunter. One day, as he was sailing a raft across the river, one beautiful noblewoman named Min Ja-young asks him to take her somewhere. The movie portrays this scene as love-at-first-sight on his behalf. Many years later, that woman, another one of our main protagonist, married King Gojong and turns into the next queen of Joseon.
Love and Power
Even though the film tries really hard to make this a love story, the main plot of the film is still ‘the love for power’. I won’t get too deep into the affair between Queen Min and her personal bodyguard since it is publicly known that the love story is only fictional for the entertainment purpose only.
However, Queen Min really did exist.
Queen Min, after getting into the palace, become so fond of her power and believe that she can do something to improve Korean international relations.
Either it was her love for power or her ambition to improve the country, Queen Min really used her full potential in foreign affairs.
Soon- compared to her husband, the king, she came to be more entitled to the throne and became known as Empress Myeongseong.
Dragon God VS Christianity
Korea, at the time, banned all kind of religions from other countries since it contradicted with their own Royalty-related belief that the King is the son of Dragon or the Sun (depending on each dynasty). With that, the government decided that the best way to prevent other religions to enter the country was to ban every outside information or knowledge as well.
You must first experience things, before you deny them due to prejudices. -Queen Min
Consequently, all the medical and weaponry knowledge from the West could not reach Korea, resulting in lack of improvement in technology and culture.
It is undeniable that this could be the reason behind all the defeats during the wars with Japan. The film also shows that during the Royal Palace invasion, most of the Japanese soldiers had guns, while all the Korean soldiers had only swords or knives. It is no surprise that guns would win over swords in distant fights.
Behind every great man is a great woman
Historically, Queen Min or Empress Myeongseong took it in her own hands to ensure the stability and improvement in foreign affairs. She reached out to many diplomats and tried to learn many international cultures to prove that Korea is a civilized country. That is because she believed that stronger connection with Russia could strengthen Korea and block out invasions from Japan.
As the greatest representative of the West Asia, Japanese government viewed Queen Min as a threat to Japanese success of occupying Korea, and for many attempts they tried to get rid of her.
Later, they decided to invade the Royal Palace and assassinated 3 court women misunderstood to be Queen Min. And when they eventually successfully assassinated Queen Min, they burned her corpse in front of the current King.
The assassination of Queen Min marked the end of Joseon Dynasty, before King Gojong, under Japanese influence, declared Korea an Empire.
Many royalties fled the country and never went back.
You can cut your nerve to fell painless, but your country of Korea can never win over Japan.
– Japanese General
For some powerful entity to go to that extent of killing a woman just because they were afraid that she would cause problems to their already very stable power is just pathetic in my opinion.
Pathetic and sad.
Isn’t this what happen when we, as a human being, are not content with what we already have?
All the power, all the money, all the land in the world would never be able to satisfy us if we cannot stop our greed.