Three of Asian cinema’s biggest stars collide in this big-budget battle epic set during China’s brutal nineteenth-century civil war.
Three of Asian cinema’s biggest stars collide in this big-budget battle epic set during China’s brutal nineteenth-century civil war. Army General Jet Li, bandit leader Andy Lau and his confidante Takeshi Kaneshiro swear blood-brotherhood oath and go about turning the tide of the conflict.
Too often a blank canvas in Hollywood bit-parts and last seen literally pissing on Jackie Chan in The Forbidden Kingdom, Li becomes a different creature when acting in his own language – a minimalist, captivating star who owns the frame as soon as he steps into it.
Better still, he’s not flying around like a pigeon on a string. Ditching the wire-fu aerobatics of Hero et al, The Warlords unloads some terrific extended fight sequences – not least an extraordinary sequence in which Li singlehandedly takes on a cannon-toting army.
But despite the trio providing a compelling human angle to the dusty, doleful drama, the script isn’t quite strong enough to sustain the 130-minute runtime. It’s no surprise to find that eight screenwriters had a crack at it.
Li, Lau and Kaneshiro go to war? Yes please. Consider us drafted.
Amazing battles, but dragged down by a soggy love subplot.
Li and Lau’s battle-scarred charisma lingers.