A tale of noble brotherhood compromised by self-interest and a messy love triangle, The Warlords, ultimately, tries to speak to the futility of war - but it does so by staging one gargantuan dustup after another.
It is the rising friction between the blood brothers that holds the story together. The arguments about loyalty and larger missions that tear at their alliance feel both age old and completely current.
Although the film is impressive in its physical aspects, the adultery of Pang and his blood brother's wife, Lian (Xu Jinglei), is underdrawn as a sexual skirmish whose influence on events is diminished.
While Li, Lau and Kaneshiro bring warmth, humor and pathos to their roles as blood brothers bound for tragedy, they're better to watch in action or when quietly brooding than when pontificating on what they owe to one another and the warriors they lead.