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His country torn asunder by civil war, Zhao Zilong, a common man heeds the call of duty and from the humblest of roots rises through the ranks on wings of courage and cunning to command an army charged with liberating the land from an evil warlord. Inspiring by action, honor and a dream of unifying his divided nation, Zhao Zilong's heroism becomes legend, but as the years pass and the throne changes hands the war still rages on. When a newly enthroned king decides peace can only be achieved by defeating the warlords once and for all, the aging Zhao Zilong embarks on his final and greatest campaign, a road to adventure that will crown his name in glory for all time. Written by
Epic story is reduced to showing big battles and simply using dialog to link them
Andy Lau stars as a general who started as a foot soldier and worked his way up through the ranks after several acts of heroism.Thirty years on he's forced to fight one last battle against the daughter of an old enemy.
Apparently based on the same source material (The Romance of the Three Kingdoms) that John Woo is using for his 5 hour Red Cliffs (due for release later this year) Here the "epic" story is reduced to around 100 minutes of marching armies and battles. Any sense of plot is cast aside for the fighting and deep pronouncements. To be fair the DVD I watched had barely coherent subtitles, but at the same time they were coherent enough to know that they really didn't have a great deal to translate. The plot lurches from thing to thing with very little explanation- or rather only explanation to carry the emotion. We're told things rather than shown things. The performances of Lau and Sammo Hung provide a great deal of emotion that isn't in the script. The bond between the two men and the emotion that they impart are the reason you watch the film, not for anything else...
...okay maybe the action. As a film of epic action scenes its quite good. its not great but it is is good in a retro old school style. Its pretty pictures of armies fighting and it is entertaining, if rarely engaging (something the films scant dialog and character building prevents from ever happening). Never mind that coming as it does on the heels of the Jet Li masterpiece Warlords the film has a great deal to live up to since that earlier film had real characters and real action, two things this film never manages to achieve. Add to the mix the over use of slow motion and the film really isn't worth the trouble.
Actually its worth looking at if you want to see the fighting and a couple of good performances.
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