Set in China in the 1860's during the Taiping Rebellion, the story is based on the assassination of Ma Xinyi in 1870. Loyalist General Qingyun is the only survivor of a battle with ...
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In this sequel to Red Cliff, Chancellor Cao Cao convinces Emperor Xian of the Han to initiate a battle against the two Kingdoms of Shu and Wu, who have become allied forces, against all ... See full summary »
Tony Chiu-Wai Leung,
Story centers on a battle during China's Warring States Period, a series of civil wars, which spanned from the 5th to the 3rd century B.C. Based on a popular Japanese manga, which was in turn based a Japanese novel inspired by Warring States history in China.
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Set in China in the 1860's during the Taiping Rebellion, the story is based on the assassination of Ma Xinyi in 1870. Loyalist General Qingyun is the only survivor of a battle with anti-Qing rebels. He encounters a starving village, whose inhabitants engage in banditry to survive, where he is nursed back to health by the attractive Liansheng. With his strength regained, Qingyun impresses one of the village bandit leaders, Jiang Wuyang, with his fighting skills. Wuyang introduces him to his "big brother", who also happens to be Liansheng's husband, Zhao Erhu and Qingyun begins to assist them with their raids. Qingyun convinces his two new comrades to form a loyalist army unit to fight the rebels and feed their own people. The three men swear a blood oath. Their stunning military successes impress the governing powers, but as Qingyun's influence begins to grow, they soon fear him. The political and emotional stakes will be tested, leading to differences between the blood brothers.Written by
The film was originally titled "The Blood Brothers". Director Peter Chan said it was influenced by the late Chang Cheh's 1973 film "The Blood Brothers", which is itself based on a famous high profile assassination of a local governor in 1870, but denied that it is a remake. He also decided to change the title to The Warlords in order to avoid confusion. See more »
25 minutes into the movie, the curse word "gou ri de" (literally: dog, Japanese, of) was used. The expression means "Japanese dog" which originates from the Japanese invasion during World War II. The movie takes places in the 19th century, so the expression had not come about yet. See more »
Looking at the list of writers involved in this project, it is a fraking miracle that this film is as good as it is. While it is no The Banquet, it is a solid historical epic which features the most layered and complex performance of Jet Li's career.
Loosely based on the Shaw Brothers' 1973 film The Blood Brothers as well as the life and death of General Ma Xinyi, this is a tragedy in the Greek or Shakespearean sense. Jet Li plays General Pang Qingyun, a general of the Ching army whose command is slaughtered by the Taiping rebels while Pang's allies the Ho Army watch and do nothing.
Injured, delirious and with no one left to command, Pang is nursed back to health by a beautiful woman who turns out to be the wife of Andy Lau's bandit leader Zhao Er-Hu. When the Ho Army raids Lau's village, steals their supplies and kills one of his men, Jet Li convinces Er-Hu and his lieutenant Zhang Wen-Xiang (played by Takeshi Kaneshiro) that if they join the Ching Army they will get the respect, money and guns necessary to protect themselves and their village. Pang, Er-Hu and Zhang swear a blood oath to stand together with death as the penalty for oath-breakers.
This starts Pang on his quest to save his country from itself, building an army from the unwanted, the poor, the brigands. In the process, Pang must fight Imperial politics as much as the enemy Taiping rebels. Each step along the way, Pang has to barter away a little piece of his soul to achieve victory, with Zhang reacting with hero-worshipping approval, while Er-Hu becomes increasingly disgusted.
The down side to working with a star of Jet Li's caliber is that in every role he is Jet Li, bringing with it his quiet heroism and idealism. This film turns that drawback into an advantage by casting Jet Li as a man who does increasingly villainous things for the purest of motives. Like a Chinese Robespierre, Pang is trying to build a free, united China on a pyramid of corpses.
The film that The Warlords reminds me of the most is John Ford's The Searchers.
Like The Searchers, The Warlords starts with a massacre. Both films feature characters who leave their homes on an obsessive quest that seems impossible and takes them years to complete.
John Ford uses John Wayne's iconic, heroic status and subverts it, as the obsessive quest slowly destroys Wayne from within. Jet Li's character in The Warlords follows the same arc, beginning his quest with idealistic purity and finishing just inches from total madness. Both men succeed in their quests, Jet Li's Pang in saving his country, Wayne's Ethan Edwards in rescuing his niece, but in both cases their quest is ultimately futile, because what they saved was the reality and what they wanted to save was an ideal. Both men end their films framed in a doorway that they can no longer cross, because their journeys have turned them into men of war who have no place in the world of peace on the other side of the doorway.
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