Set hundreds of years ago, the JOURNEY TO THE WESTERN XIA EMPIRE tells a brutal tale of a small village in the central plains of China caught between two distant warring clans.
One clan "collects" a tax in the form of food, materials and precious metals. The other clan, the Xixia Clan, seeks only to collect a "blood tax" -- the only acceptable blood tax being male babies.
The Xia Clan conduct long-range winter raids to steal male babies. JOURNEY TO THE WESTERN XIA EMPIRE centers on one raid in which ten male babies are taken. One lovesick (for her stolen baby) mother chases the raiders across the cold plains. That she is able to keep pace with horses is even more amazing because she is 9 months pregnant with yet another baby. Her 18 month old baby is eventually killed. The lovesick mother is captured, has a new baby boy, and it is instantly snatch away, thus motivating her to chase after the horses again for 50 more miles.
In the world in which this movie takes place, there are no husbands, no lovers, the raiders only take what is on their list. At one point a raider tells a woman, "Go away and find a husband!" This would seem to be an impossible task. How any of the babies we see are ever conceived remains a complete mystery.
Both the villagers and the raiders act like mindless robots throughout the movie. No one plans anything. No one thinks. JOURNEY TO THE WESTERN XIA EMPIRE is 120 minutes of nonstop brutality. It is no great shakes as an action movie. There are no strong heroes. There are no redeeming moments.
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