Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|An Empress and the Warriors|
Actors: Leon Lai, Kelly Chen, Donnie Yen, Guo Xiaodong, Kou Zhenhai
Director: Ching Siu Tung
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House
D. Boeger | 01/25/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you're just looking for an Asian beat-em-up with shallow story and little to no character development, then watch Ong-Bak or something along those lines. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love those action-oriented movies as well. But this is not that. I feel as though most of the negative reviews are coming from people who expected something entirely different out of this movie.
That being said, this was an excellent movie. Not the greatest Chinese epic (I think Hero might be my favorite), but still a rather good one. The point of this type of movie is not to spill blood and guts all over the camera (although that is often a guilty pleasure of the viewer); it is instead to provide some sort of insight into what makes us human through a setting of violent despair. This movie does it well.
After watching the entire movie, I must say the title says it all: "An Empress and the Warriors." I did not realize the significance going into it, but the movie is really the story of two different groups of people personified by the characters in the story. The plight of the ruler sacrificing for the prosperity of her people is told through the empress. The values of a brave, strong warrior are exemplified by the general, Donnie Yen's character. The empress learns what it truly means to be responsible for the lives of an entire kingdom. The general gives his life so that he may end the war and bring peace and happiness to his family and nation.
So to tell these two different stories, naturally there had to be quite different subplots. People keep complaining that the love story in the movie took up way too much time, yet how could you have this beautiful work of art without it? The empress was raised to be insensitive to the lives of those outside the palace, and it is only through her newly discovered love that she realizes her true purpose. Every second of the film is critical to the work as a whole.
So if you're looking for gratuitous amounts of death and destruction, I recommend the Rambo series. Otherwise, keep an open mind and appreciate the movie for what it is. I recommend visiting video sharing sites to perhaps see some clips from the film before buying. That way, you know what movie you're getting. I usually try to do that before buying."
Decent Action...But the Uninspired Script Can't Match the Be
Woopak | Where Dark Asian Knights Dwell | 07/28/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"2008 seems to be the year for Chinese epic dramas. "An Empress and the Warriors" was released before the "Romance of Three Kingdoms" related films by Daniel Lee (Three Kingdoms) and John Woo (Red Cliff). The film is helmed by Tony Ching Siu Tang (Naked Weapon) and if you are familiar with this director's past works, you'll know that he is a good action director. However, I do believe the skill of good storytelling eludes him--"An Empress and the Warriors" is pure brainless fun, with decent production values and may well be a good "date" movie.
After the kingdom of Yan is mortally wounded after a battle with the Zhao army, the king chooses to leave command to an orphan, named Muyong Xuehu (Donnie Yen) who is not related to the royal family. This bold decision raises the ire of Hu Ban (Guo Xiao-Dong), the king's nephew who is ready and willing to lead. Yan Feier (Kelly Chen) is the king's daughter and was bestowed the sacred "Swallow sword" (I know!) as her father's dying wish, to give to Muyong. However, when the time came to announce Muyong's promotion, Hu Ban and Diao Erbao renounces the claim saying that the king should not be one with no royal blood in his veins. To keep the peace and avoid mutiny, Feier seizes power with Muyong's support--and undergoes military training to prove her worthiness to lead. Hu Ban plots to discredit the princess before she is crowned as the empress, assassination is even an option --a power struggle threatens to weaken the foundations of the Yan Kingdom.
I'm not sure how to begin, the film's plot is so flimsy and uninspired. It abandons the potentials of a conspiracy during a period when leadership is important in favor of a budding romance between Feier and Duan (played by Leon Lai) which makes rather fun but definitely predictable and boring. The character of Feier does look like a princess but the way she is portrayed by the script is rather silly and lacks credibility. Kelly Chen does look like a beautiful princess, but the kind that would act in a disney movie. The script by James Yuen Sai-sang is also very light, the threat of destruction is overshadowed by romance? I'm not sure, Feier and Muyong kept on referring to her as the "one to unite the country" but just what is this "Yan Kingdom"? All that came to view are buildings and shacks and aside from the ninjas and Duan, no common folk is visible. I do feel that the war backdrop is just meant as a plot device to gain sympathy and to set up the scenes of overdone sentimentality.
While I also disliked its use of the usual histrionics, the film does have some charm. However, unbelievable and stylish Kelly Chen's training sequences with Donnie Yen, it has somewhat diverting. However, the film abandons this device rather quickly and falls to the usual romantic gimmicks. The romance between Duan and Feier may be nice to the female species but it just kills the film's overall impact. I thought I was in a dumb teen flick, and while the screenplay has the usual elements of loyalty, sacrifice, duty, compassion and betrayal, it never executed them well enough and opted for a perfunctory romance to add complications to its premise of a "threatened kingdom". The storyline just wasn't interesting and lacked inspiration, the film isn't compelling and interesting.
The acting for the most part is a mixed bag. Kelly Chen is very pretty and charismatic but I had some reservations as to how convincing she was as a strong-willed princess. I would give her the benefit of a doubt since the script is so dry that it gave her so little to work with. Her acting is very cute and charming, her interactions with the tree-dwelling Duan may appeal to the female audience, but it suffers from a lack of consistency that doesn't fit into the film's plot. The film does have huge continuity issues and feels undercooked. Donnie Yen will be Donnie Yen--complete with his overacting.
Now as for the action sequences, there are quite a good number of them. Director Tony Ching knows his stuff when shooting action sequences. He uses multiple camera angles and the moves are visually impressive. The ninja-like assassins and the chase sequences were very cool. The assault in the tree-home of Duan is fast-paced and stylish, complete with cool close-ups with attitude. The battle scenes were decent but not in the same caliber as other Chinese epics of this kind. There is some blood as folks are stabbed and impaled in some very sensitive places. The action has a lot of posturing with attitude complete with the wind blowing strands of hair. Donnie Yen is a very showy actor but none can deny that he does have a presence as a martial artist. Yen is complete with bone-crushing machismo as he fights hundreds of Hu Ban's foot soldiers in the final act. Truly exaggerated and unrealistic appeal for an epic but good enough for an action movie.
So what is the final verdict? Well, the usual stereotypical Hong Kong "cuteness" just would never match the tone and atmosphere of Mainland China's Epic Wuxia films. You can tell that the film should have a more serious tone and to incorporate a cute romance into its premise just bores the heck out of me. The action choreography does prove diverting and all it all the film is just a practice of a mainstream stylish action flick. The leads are definitely photogenic and the visuals were decent; this film is definitely geared to fans of these performers who would watch anything they appear in. "An Empress and the Warriors" is just another of those stupid commercial flicks that should be watched with VERY low expectations. It is watchable for 90 minutes but definitely a forgettable experience; it just fails in comparison to the best China has to offer.
Rental [2 ½ Stars]
The Last Gunslinger | 10/21/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is the exact reason I've stopped watching most everything out of Hollywood. This movie makes all of the so called "blockbusters" or "epics" look like high school class projects made by slackers and stoners. If you've never seen Hong Kong cinema, or think that all Chinese movies are just Kung Fu flicks with bad dubbing, you are in for an amazing surprise. This is better than Crouching Tiger, House of Flying Daggers, or even Hero. Watch this movie, then buy it."