Thursday, 8 September 2011

Review - The Warlords (2007 - Dir. Peter Chan)

The Warlords is an historical epic set in China in the 1860s. It revolves around three blood brothers played by two mighty oaks of Asian cinema and an up and coming sapling. Jet Li (Hero) plays General Pang who has just returned from a battle where all of his men were massacred. He comes across a merry little band of bandits led by Zhao Er-Hu (Andy Lau - Saviour of the Soul) and Wuyang (Takeshi Kaneshiro - House of Flying Daggers). They become top mates and decide to join the army.

For a tale based on a real life occurence, they have taken some liberties with the battle scenes. At one point, Pang scythes his way through the legs of about four enemies with one swipe of his trusty blade. In reality, it would get stuck in the bone of the first bloke. Never mind. It looks cool. 

Some of the earlier scraps are played more for their action value, so it is a surprise when midway through the film Pang orders the execution of an entire enemy army. This is very effective due to the director showing the reactions of the soldiers committing the atrocity rather than the atrocity itself. The anguish on their faces is palpable.

The acting throughout is well done, especially from our three leads. Jinglei Xu also performs admirably as Lian, one part of a love triangle. 
The film looks beautiful and suitably epic at times: from the virtually monochromatic palette of the battles to the rich colours of the temples in Beijing. The only thing that lets it down is the use of some jerky slow-motion that looks like it was added at the editing stage, rather than being filmed with a high-speed camera.

All in all though, I enjoyed this. It has a similar theme to Hero in that if you commit evil but it leads to a period of lasting peace can you be considered a monster? Mmm, ponder on that. 

If you like this you could also try:
Hero, House of Flying Daggers, An Empress and the Warriors, Red Cliff.

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