Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts Cycle > Action > Revenge > Historic > China > Hong Kong > 14 Blades (2010/Anchor Bay/Starz Blu-ray)

14 Blades (2010/Anchor Bay/Starz Blu-ray)

Picture: B Sound: B Extras: D Film: B-

14 Blades is a post-Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon swashbuckling epic starring Donnie Yen that is full of fancy weaponry (the guns have grappling hooks!), stone faced killers, and breathtaking cinematography. The violence is brutal and the kinetic filmmaking style makes this period piece flashy and fun. In many ways, this film reminds me of 47 Ronin with the themes of defying an Emperor, a badass Femme Warrior as an antagonist that can move at the speed of light, and the overall stylization of the piece. This is definitely one of the cooler action films that I have seen in a while and would definitely recommend it if you are a fan of the martial arts genre! I will warn you though that in-between the fight sequences, the film does tend to drag and probably could have benefited from a shorter running time. Regardless, here is the lowdown on the plot of the film...

During the late Ming Dynasty, the Imperial court is plagued by corruption and the reigning Emperor is incompetent. The Jinyiwei are the government's secret police, trained in clandestine combat since childhood. They are in charge of conducting missions to ensure peace and stability within the empire (like Jedi Knights if you will). They have the authority to prosecute anyone deemed an enemy of the state and they devote their lives and lethal prowess to serving the Emperor only. The Jinyiwei chief, Jia Jingzhong, is plotting to rebel with the Emperor's uncle, Prince Qing, who was exiled and had his legs cut off for an unsuccessful rebellion many years ago. (Pretty harsh)

Jia Jingzhong orders Qinglong, a Jinyiwei commander played by Yen, to retrieve a safe box in the possession of the Imperial councilor Zhao Shenyan, who is supposedly planning to revolt. Qinglong is told that the box contains proof of the Councilor's treason. Sympathy is inspired when Shenyan's little daughter and wife beg for his life and Qinglong discovers that he has been had, as the safe box contains the Imperial Seal - which is a symbol of the Emperor's authority, and Jia Jingzhong wants to use it to legitimize Prince Qing's actions when the rebellion begins.

Qinglong is betrayed by his fellow Jinyiwei and becomes a fugitive when Jia Jingzhong denounces him as a traitor and orders his arrest. Qinglong escapes and joins the Justice Escort Agency, where he strikes up a romantic relationship with Qiao Hua, the daughter of the agency's leader. Isn't that how it always goes? Qinglong is determined to fulfill his loyalty to the Emperor and he continues to search for evidence of Prince Qing's plot while undermining the Prince's plans concurrently.

He is joined by the Heaven Eagles Gang, a group of bandits led by the Judge of the Desert. Standing in Qinglong's way are Jia Jingzhong's henchmen and his former Jinyiwei fellows, as well as Prince Qing's adoptive daughter Tuotuo, a highly skilled female warrior. Will they succeed or fail against Prince Qing?

Though just being released on disc, the film was actually made in 2010 and was nominated for Best Action Choreography and Best Sound Design at the 29th Hong Kong Film Awards. Critics all seem to praise Donnie Yen's performance in the film, but I will say that many of the fight scenes, while cool, were a little too dependent on wire-fu and special effects more than just traditional action taking place in wider shots. Though the editing pace is frantic, it does make the film feel more modern.

The 1080p high definition transfer on the disc is so-so and in my opinion could have been better for as colorful and vibrant as the film is. Many scenes feature an almost processed look with some noticeable edge halos around some of the characters. The disc captures the original 2.35.1 aspect ratio within the 16.9 widescreen presentation. As for sound, the disc features a Mandarin language DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack that is clean and clear and optional English, English SDH, and Spanish subtitles are also included.

Total Running Time for the film clocks in around 113 minutes.

No extras are on the disc unfortunately.

- James Harland Lockhart V



 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com