I’ve had my eyes on ‘The Warlords’ since it was released in Asia as The Blood Brothers (投名狀 / tóu míng zhuàng) in 2007. Directed by Peter Chan, this spectacular historical action film is set in the midst of war and political upheaval during the Taiping Rebellion of the 1860s.
Based loosely on real events in Chinese history, it stars Jet Li as General Pang, who barely survives a brutal massacre of his fellow soldiers by playing dead. Pang soon joins a band of bandits led by Er Hu (Andy Lau) and Wu Yang (Takeshi Kaneshiro). After fighting back attackers from an helpless village, the three men take an oath to become blood brothers, pledging loyalty to one another until death. Of course, it wouldn’t be a movie if things didn’t quickly turn sour — the three men become embroiled in a web of political deceit, and a love triangle between Pang, Er Hu and a beautiful courtesan (Xu JingLei).
The film won a ton of awards in Asia and it was clear to me as I was watching the film that the sweeping cinematography and the masterful direction was what set ‘The Warlords’ apart from most modern Asian cinema. I’m not one for gory and grizzly fight scenes, but I couldn’t keep my eyes away from the battle scenes, even at their bloodiest. The three male main characters were engaging — though I’m the first to admit that I’m an unabashed Takeshi fan. The major distraction of the film is the “love triangle” storyline, but then, if you’re watching this movie for the love story, then you’re definitely watching the wrong movie.
Due to scheduling conflicts, I was not able to speak to Director Peter Chan as I had planned to, but I was curious to ask him how he thought American audiences would respond to the film, considering that most people here don’t have a background in the history of China. So since I couldn’t ask him, I’ll ask any of our 8Asians readers who have seen the film for their opinions on this topic. Do you know anything about the Taiping Rebellion or the Qing Dynasty? Does having knowledge of the historical background of a film’s setting make a difference in how you might view it?
‘The Warlords’ is available on VOD, XBOX LIVE and AMAZON and opened in selected theatres April 2nd. The Bay Area opening is on April 9, 2010 at Landmark’s Lumiere Theatre, in San Francisco, Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley, and Camera 3 in San Jose. The film’s running time is 110 minutes, and is rated R. In Mandarin; fully subtitled in English.
If you like epic films, then you’ll probably enjoy this film as much as I did. Want to check it out this weekend, Bay Area folks?
How do you enter?
All you have to do is to leave a comment with your preferred location and your favorite out of the 4 stars (Jet Li, Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro, or Xu Jinglei) and one lucky winner will be selected to go!
Hurry, the deadline to enter is: Thursday, April 8 at 12noon (Pacific Time)
ONE lucky winner will be selected and contacted that afternoon.
Rules for entering:
1) Please be serious about using the tickets– unused free tix suck!
2) Contributors to 8Asians and their immediate family members are not eligible to win.
Prize courtesy of: Landmark Theatres and 8Asians.