This story has its roots in the Joseon era of Korean history, with political upheaval and power struggles between different factions and an impending invasion by the Japanese. The film has received its share of criticism, mostly around the assessment that the plot was aimless and never developed into a solid storyline. It's been about a year since I've seen this film and I was hard pressed to recall what the movie was actually about, so there is probably some merit to this criticism (or I'm just getting old). What I can tell you is that I enjoyed the film when I watched it, and in my list of martial arts movies I've seen, which is up to about 200 entries, this is among 40 films that I've flagged to watch again.
One character in particular that I enjoyed was Hwang Jeong-hak, a unassuming blind swordsman. He is the most colorful and three dimensional character in the film - a mix of humor, humility, wisdom and bad-to-the-bone fighting skills. As in the Zatoichi series, there is the play of other characters underestimating his abilities and the ensuing melee which is always great fun.