Watching it now, it still looks funny, but in a good way. Maybe I should watch Swordsman I first.
The Swordsman trilogy is what I've referred to as a symphony of ironies. Swordsman 2 is the best and easiest to find (because of Jet Li's popularity). Swordsman 1 lacked 2's gravitas, while 3 lacked the titular swordsman, had the least humor, and IMO suffered from focusing too much on political commentary (although to western eyes that commentary was anything but clear). Swordsman 2 struck a perfect balance of elements.
The "force" and wire-fu stuff are bold, unapologetic representations of the legendary/mythical powers which were increasingly attributed to kung fu practitioners during medieval China. The abilities of real martial artists, like Shaolin monks, became wildly exaggerated by storytellers. The core premise of a martial artist learning to control his "chi" or inner/spiritual power is a demonstrable reality, tho nothing remotely close to these folklore versions. A clash of fact against popular fiction occured during the Boxer Rebellion (1900), where members of the Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists (the "boxers") believed that they were invulnerable to bullets thanks to a particularly occultic martial arts style, which to their chagrins turned out not
to be the case on actual battlefields.
Super-exaggerated depictions of martial arts powers were common in the early days of Chinese cinema, before trending closer to realistic during the 50's, 60's, and 70's. Tsui Hark returned to the classic exaggerations, with increased style, when he helped launched Hong Kong's New Wave Cinema, with films like Swordsman and A Chinese Ghost Story, in the 80's.
The eye-popping, and often surreal, cinematic devices of unusual camera angles, zooms, camera lenses, lighting, and fast editing, as well, were hallmarks of Hong Kong's New Wave, initiated by Hark, John Woo, and a few other directors of the same time.