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The Warlords (+ BD Live) [Blu-ray]
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Set in the midst of the Taiping Rebellion of the 1860s, THE WARLORDS stars Jet Li as General Pang, who barely survives a brutal massacre of his fellow soldiers by playing dead, and then joins a band of bandits led by Er Hu (Andy Lau) and Wu Yang (Takeshi Kaneshiro). After fighting back attackers for a defenseless village, the three men take an oath to become "blood brothers," pledging loyalty to one another until death. However, their lives quickly derail as they become embroiled in a web of political deceit and a love triangle between Pang, Er Hu and a beautiful courtesan (Xu Jinglei).
Top Customer Reviews
The Taiping Rebellion has plunged the country in chaos. General Quing-yun Pang (Jet Li) is the lone survivor of a massive battle between the Christian Taiping and the Qing dynasty under command. That evening, he finds comfort in the arms of comely Lian (Xu Jinglei) but she disappears the following day. Pang encounters a group of bandits led by Er-hu Zhao (Andy Lau) and Jiang (Kaneshiro) who are having difficulty in survival. As fate would have it, the three takes a blood oath to join the Qing army to quell the rebellion.
The Taiping rebellion is among the bloodiest civil war ever recorded in history. The body count rivals the ones during World War II. The Taiping rebellion has a lot to do with religion and cultural ideology, and those powerful issues have been downplayed in favor of the theme of brotherhood, love and war. The film fails to take advantage of its historical context. Quite disappointing really, apparently, the producers presume that the usual theme of brotherhood and loyalty are more universal and more appealing to international audiences.Read more ›
Jet Li, a great general in the Imperial army, is betrayed and the only man in his army to survive. His resurrection from the dead is both fascinating and appalling to watch as his desire for power obliterates all before him. Andy Lau gives the performance of a lifetime as the head of a band of brigands, who first follows Jet Li but later becomes disaffected by what he sees and tries to turn back from the collision course the ambitious general has set them all on.
Takeshi Kaneshiro as the youngest of the three strong male leads is remarkable in terms of both his battle prowess and how loyal he is to both men, until he is forced to choose sides. Complicating matters still further is the fact that Li's character unintentionally fell in love with a woman on the road, who turns out to be the wife of Lau's character. The inevitable ending is anything but as each man meets his fate.
The action and battle sequences, music, costume, and above all, the depiction of warfare at the time, including trench warfare, makes this an Asian All Quiet on the Western Front, where there is no glory for anyone, only more bloodshed for the sake of ruthless territorial ambitions. I have watched it several times now, with a variety of friends, and everyone LOVED it, even as they were completely shocked by it. If you like action films, there is plenty to recommend Warlords, but the sheer depth of this epic is remarkable. This is a GREAT film in the true sense of the word.
That said, there is definitely a rock hard moral core at the heart of this movie that fits with what I like about more typical martial arts movies: the sense of honor and the importance of male bonding over personal gain. What gives this movie its heart is that the brotherhood created by the characters played by the three male leads spins apart and leads to tragic consequences.
A little background on the Taiping rebellion, even a blurb from Wikipedia or the like, would be a good thing to read as the movie clearly assumes we know a bit about it. By and large though, this information would make the film richer but not knowing it does not impair your ability to follow the story. The position of each male protagonist is a little vague at the start of the film, but this again is a minor issue.
The battle scenes in this movie are astounding. Some really shocking shots with limbs being severed, etc. It's graphic, but not gratuitous. Despite all the effects and costumes and such, the film never loses its emotional core. I was surprised how much I came to care about the brotherhood of these three men in under two hours. That said, there were a few scenes that did drag a little, and this would be another slight flaw with the movie.
Of course, the length of the movie brings me to the major problem with the US release. From what I understand, 15 minutes has been cut from this film for the US release. why? Why? WHY???Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Action scenes are great. All main characters play their part very well. I really enjoyed watching itPublished 3 months ago by Huy Vu
Very disappointing overall. With the talent involved, this should have been a home run. Plodding , poorly paced plot. Outrageously ludicrous plot holes. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dexter and Trixie VanDerSnoot
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