This could be movies' Year of the Sword

Material World

October 12, 2003|By Greg Morago | Greg Morago,THE HARTFORD COURANT

It slices! It dices! It chops and blends! And it's a whiz at dismembering!

It's not your trusty Cuisinart or your beloved Henckel.

It's the sword of vengeance wielded with blinding precision by Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, Vol. 1, Quentin Tarantino's new samurai-inspired bloodbath. Thurman may dazzle with her kung fu acrobatics and athletic yellow track suit, but it is her weapon - a unique Japanese sword that can behead like it's going through butter - that is the movie's true star.

In one fight scene, it dismembers 88 opponents (which called for more than 100 gallons of fake blood) without so much as nicking its lethal edge.

While Kill Bill will no doubt resuscitate Tarantino's moviemaking career, it may also do wonders for sword sales. Movies that feature swords - and there have been a lot of popular examples: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Braveheart, Excalibur, Conan the Barbarian, and even the light sabers of the Star Wars series - up the interest in blades.

"I get a lot more phone calls whenever a new [sword] movie comes out," said Don Bernard, partner and director of operations for Toledo Swords Inc. of Boutte, La. "Believe me, they'll start looking for the swords in Kill Bill. There will be a demand for samurai swords, period."

John Nuch, who runs an Internet site for the sale of swords and knives, said that knife-wielding movies tend to inspire knife aficionados to add to their collections. "Whatever's in the movie, the collectors are going to want it," said Nuch, who runs Knife, Sword and Dagger in Orlando, Fla.

But movies like Kill Bill can be a double-edged sword for Nuch. Collectors will want weapons exactly like they see in the movies. If something similar isn't in stock, it might take months to get it made and shipped to Nuch for sale. By that time, interest in the movie will have fallen off.

This wasn't the case for The Lord of the Rings fantasy swords because the movie has been released in installments (the third is due out in December). Kill Bill is also in parts (the second "volume" is set for release in February).

So, who exactly is buying swords? A wide variety of customers, Bernard said. There are people who need swords for military re-enactments; for theatrical use; for Renaissance fairs; for museum installations; for fencing; and for collecting and gift-giving. And there are some people who buy them just because they look pretty and hang them on their walls as artwork.

Bernard said one of the newest and most popular uses for swords is at weddings. Swords are being used to cut the wedding cake, to step over after the vows, or as a gift for groomsmen, Bernard said.

The Hartford Courant is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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