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A massive success this year in its native China, "Dragon Blade" brings action spectacle on a grand scale to US audiences. Featuring an international cast led by Jackie Chan, John Cusack and Academy Award(R) winner Adrien Brody, the film features the fight for the Silk Road when East and West collide. When corrupt Roman leader Tiberius (Adrien Brody) arrives with a giant army to claim the Silk Road, Huo An (Jackie Chan) and his group of trained warriors teams up with an elite legion of defected Roman soldiers led by General Lucius (John Cusack) to maintain the delicate balance of power in the region. To protect his country and his new friends, Huo An gathers the warriors of thirty-six ethnic nations together to fight Tiberius in an incredible epic battle.
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But. Oh, but. If you take it for what it is - a big, hammy movie with its heart firmly located in the right place - then this is an incredibly fun watch. I was not bored, and was often touched/ entertained. Yes, it's corny. Yes, it's wildly inaccurate. No, you can't do that with swords and that Mainz-type gladius is rendered unusable by the gorgon head inexplicably soldered to the haft, and Parthia of the first century BCE was not ruled by a woman. Carrhae had nothing to do with a dynastic struggle between Crassus brothers over the consulship (what? WHAT?), and Crassus was SO not in Parthia to sign a peace treaty! Rome did not, as it happens, have a national anthem (but the movie gets points for passable Latin grammar in said anthem). I could go on, but again, that's not the point.
The sincere wish to tell a story about how East, West, and places in between can learn to treat each other with respect gives the scenery-chewing campiness a likability that makes the inaccuracy kind of fun. It's a heck of a lot better than the Disney Hercules or that awful Eagle movie; I anticipate some very interesting conversations with my students about this thing.
Hopefully, we see more of these new ideas being put into film and entertainment industries, make it better and more memorable.