The Warlords (2007)
"Tau ming chong" (original title)

R  |   |  Action, Drama, History  |  12 December 2007 (China)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 22,181 users   Metascore: 70/100
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It's a heroic tale of three blood brothers and their struggle in the midst of war and political upheaval. It is based on "The Assassination of Ma," a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) story about ... See full summary »




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Cast overview, first billed only:
General Pang Qingyun (as Lianjie Li)
Zhao Erhu (as Dehua Liu)
Jiang Wuyang (as Wu Jincheng)
Jinglei Xu ...
Xiaodong Guo ...
Zongwan Wei ...
Bao-Ming Gu ...
Kuirong Wang ...
Bo Zhou ...
Zhaoqi Shi ...
Yachao Wang ...
Xiao Yun Wang ...
Peng Guo ...
Ailei Yu ...


It's a heroic tale of three blood brothers and their struggle in the midst of war and political upheaval. It is based on "The Assassination of Ma," a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) story about the killing of general Ma Xinyi. The story was filmed by Zhang Che in 1973 as The Blood Brothers. Written by anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Action | Drama | History | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sequences of strong violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

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Release Date:

12 December 2007 (China)  »

Also Known As:

The Warlords  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$10,073 (USA) (2 April 2010)


$128,978 (USA) (14 May 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (international)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The main character's name was supposed to be that of an actual historical figure called Ma Xinyi, but was changed to Pang Qingyun in order not to reflect badly on the estate of Ma's descendants, who believe that their ancestor was a good man. See more »


During battles, the horses fall down without being hit. Clearly they were tripped by wire. See more »


General Pang Qingyun: to Zhang Wen-Xiang: Let them eat. It's their last meal
Zhao Er-Hu: But I promised to spare their lives!
General Pang Qingyun: Winning is all that matters in war!
Zhao Er-Hu: A man who breaks his word is a beast!
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Jet Li's War and No Peace
27 April 2008 | by (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

From the Warring States Period going all the way back to the 5th century BC, wars have wracked China seemingly without pause. During the second half of the 19th century, and the late Qing/Ching/Manchu dynasty, some 50 million soldiers, bandits, and civilians died in the endless conflict.

Watching "Warlords," screened for the first time in North America Saturday night in the Castro Theater, part of the San Francisco International Film Festival, at times one might have thought that most of those casualties are shown - often in close-ups - in the film.

Beginning with a view reminiscent of the Normandy invasion sequence of "Saving Private Ryan," the film by Peter Chan and Wai Man Yip depicts combat vividly and intensely. Chung Man Yee's production design peaks at times in virtually unprecedented battle-field spectacles.

There is no resolution, no peace, and only a quasi-relevant love story (featuring Jinglei Xu), but "Warlords" goes well beyond just fightin' and killin' and dyin'. Right from the beginning, as Jet Li's General Pang picks himself up from under the bodies of his dead soldiers, you notice two things: Jet Li's complete lack of vanity and the ability of this martial-arts star to act convincingly and well.

The Manchu style of the head shaved in front and the hair gathered in a ponytail in the back looks hideous when it's all messed up, especially with blood. Jet Li not only appears half dead in his first appearance, but he is taking a bad-hair day to its absolute worst. And then, you also notice that Famous Jet Li - who is NOT flying through the air in this film - has been replaced by an honest and talented actor who brings to life a complex, conflicted, tragic character.

With shifting alliances, goals, and always at the edge of extinction, Pang and his two "blood brothers," Takeshi Kaneshiro's soulful Jiang Wuyang and Andy Lau's towering Zhao Erhu (perhaps Lau's best-ever performance), struggle from small-time wars all the way to the taking of Nanking on behalf of the fast-fading central (so to speak) government in Beijing. The same history-based story has been told, in more modest terms, in Zhang Che's 1973 "The Blood Brothers." A historical war film, a brutal but not gratuitously violent drama, "Warlords" impresses, even stuns, but in the end fails to provide catharsis or even an attempt to make sense of the senseless - something Zhang Yimou came close to in "Hero" (also with Jet Li, playing a similar historic character).

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