Warlords (Tau ming chong) Reviews
Three of Asia's finest combine to play three men drawn together to make a blood pact. Led by their Big Brother, Pang (Jet Li) a General in the Ching Army, he enlists the aid of two bandit leaders (Kaneshiro and Lau) to help form an army to conquer their enemies and provide safety for their families.
Its a bloody spectacle, this one. After the audacity of Kill Bill, more and more movies are taking the bloody approach to violence, including missing body parts and plenty of blood.
But the movie is not just about war, its politics, honor, intrigue, love and of course - betrayal. the movie goes through depicting the brother's relationships through the tempest of war, broken promises and loyalties. Eventually, it reaches breaking point and all that they have worked to achieve together will become undone as their blood pact ensures their fate. And enemies and political power will make sure that none of them survive.
A massive bloodletting, it does well to create the story, characters and emotion, and we do see it in a downward spiral to the abyss. A story with no happy ending.
In his martial arts film, Li is usually a slim Buddha, effective in action but otherwise bland. Here, with a none-too-well-shaven head, he delivers a different, powerful performance as a complex anti-hero. Lau matches him as the honest thief agonised by his friend's ruthlessness. Given the way Chinese epics go, it's not too much of a spoiler to say both stars get standout death scenes.
I can't say i was bored, but not as engaged as i could have been. That said, the movie is not romantic about war at all, and neither about politics.
While occasionally a very compelling and well-photographed bit of history, "The Warlords" goes in too many directions at once to be considered totally worthwhile. First and foremost, it wants to explore the conflict between the military and civilian leadership in a war where we are never exactly sure who is on the right side which is fine. But then, there is Jet Li, so of course, there are fanboys to be pandered to which leads to some extremely cool stunts. As if that is not enough, there is an awkward love triangle. And in the attempt to wrap all of this up, while not anticlimactic, the movie goes on too long with at least two or three possible endings.
Very violent epic tale of blood-brotherhood, ambition, forbidden love and conflicting loyalties directed securely by the director Peter Ho-Sun Chan. Enjoy over two hours of pure outstanding performances, especially the one of Jet Li (out of the $40m budget he received $13m payment) ... "The Warlords" is not a fairytale and is very realistic - do not expect to see people flying around, kung fu fighting or magic... or you will be disappointed.
But that's about it (apart from the yayahs of the technical side).
Apart from the setting and some superficial aspects this is just the same as your run-of-the-mill mainstream american historical war epics (or should I say SNORE epics).
My big problem with this film is that there is so much occurences in this film that are presented so over-dramatic is just becomes laughable.