(2010/Anchor Bay/Starz Blu-ray)
B Sound: B Extras: D Film: B-
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
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...
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
Running Time for the film clocks in around 113 minutes.
extras are on the disc unfortunately.
James Harland Lockhart V