Another Epic in the Chinese Genre
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 01/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"WARRIORS OF HEAVEN AND EARTH sets out to be exactly what it is - a simple story about vengeance and action with enough narrative to justify some mighty fighting scenes. The one aspect that keeps this particular entry in the choreographed flashy swordsmanship category is the rather weak acting of most of the players. Whether it is the scripted development of the storyline or the editing or the fact that director Ping He is trying to make both an intimate and a grandiose historical epic, the flow is just so disjointed that the viewer eventually gives up on trying to figure out who is who and settles back for the visuals.
And the visuals are lovely - the Gobi Desert has rarely been captured on film with such grace, the fighting scenes are brutal without unnecessary focus on bloodletting, and the musical scoring by one A.R. Rahman is more than additive.
Recommended for escapist evenings and for the beauty of the photography. And that is enough. Grady Harp, January 2005"
Hizon | Makati Philippines | 10/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the western frontier, a lawman is tasked to look for an outlaw before he is discharged of his duties and eventually go home to his family. The outlaw in question is a former soldier who became a fugitive when he and soldiers loyal to him refused an order to massacre the enemy's women and children. Wanted for mutiny, he is on the run. But rather than make his living being a bandit, he supports himself as a mercenary. The two cross roads again when the outlaw and the lawman join forces to protect a caravan against a more vicious enemy. Sounds like a plot from a typical Western? Of course, but the West in question is Western China during the Tang Dynasty. Grabbing familiar elements from Spaghetti Westerns, director Ping He managed to make an exciting and immensely enjoyable tale of honor using a slice of Chinese history framed by the beautifully-photographed vast expanse of the Chinese Wild West. Commendable performances by the actors (notably Wen Jiang in his best Toshiro Mifune impression and of course, the graceful presence of the luscious Zhao Wei) are expected but the most memorable is the deliciously over-the-top performance by Wang Xuegi as the sinister warlord. Although the ending is somewhat marred by a literal deus-ex-machina device, it is still a must-watch for all Chinese, epic and Western movie fan."
A Fantastic Movie - Entertaining and Touching...and Exciting
Erik Rupp | Southern California | 12/31/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I ran across the DVD of Warriors of Heaven and Earth and as the price was right I decided to give it a shot. Having already fallen in love with Japanese films I though I could give a Chinese film a try - and I am definitely glad that I did.
Warriors of Heaven and Earth is NOT just a swordfighting action movie, nor is it a martial arts, "Wire-Fu," movie. What Warriors IS is a dramatic story with well rounded characters that has some fantastic action/fight sequences. Actually, I'd say that this movie, in some respects, reminded me of a more dramatic Indiana Jones movie. All the visual splendor is there, all the adventure and excitement and peril is there as in an Indiana Jones movie, and there's even a bit of the supernatural like an Indiana Jones movie. Where it departs from Indiana Jones is in the drama department.
The script for Warriors of Heavan and Earth is very, very good. Many characters are fleshed out and well rounded, the plot makes sense, and the pacing is excellent throughout. This is a touching movie, as the two main characters who are supposed to fight to the death learn to respect and even like each other - but it's not done in a forced or unnatural way. It's done slowly, with their actions providing the foundation for the respect and admiration they develop for each other.
The Amazon.com review mentions Warriors being a bit of a Western, showing more than a little John Ford (particularly The Searchers), and that is absolutely true. Director He Ping (or Ping, He, if you prefer) definitely channeled both John Ford and Akira Kurosawa while he was making this movie. Sure, there are bits of Spielberg and Yimou Zhang (or Crouching Tiger era Ang Lee), but those bits are kept to a minimum, and work to great effect WITH the John Ford and Akira Kurosawa elements.
Now, maybe comparing ANY director to John Ford and/or Akira Kurosawa is unfair. I don't think any director is going to live up to those comparisons, but in this case you can see the clear inspiration for He Ping's work on Warriors of Heaven and Earth.
The DVD itself is very good, with excellent picture and sound quality, multiple language audio tracks, a nice, "Making Of," documentary, and several trailers for this and other films of interest.
If you haven't seen an Asian movie, but like Westerns or historical epics, this would be a great film to start with. If you are already a fan of Asian Cinema, then I think from reading my review and the others already here you've got a good idea of what this movie is like.
Not only for those interested in Asian cinema...
M. B. Alcat | Los Angeles, California | 09/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My brother told me I should watch "Warriors of Heaven and Earth" (2003). Truth to be told, I was somewhat sceptic, as his taste in movies is somewhat different to mine. All the same, I must say that in this case he was right.
This film is quite original, due to the fact that it is set in 7th-century China, but at times seems like a Western. To make it a little stranger, there are some supernatural elements that fit the plot and make this movie something that you are not likely to forget.
One of the main characters is a Japanese warrior (Kiichi Nakai) that has been in the service of the Chinese Emperor for a very long time, and that just wants to fulfill his last task before returning home. Unfortunately for him, that implies finding and killing a Chinese outlaw (Wen Jiang) that used to be a soldier, but that was condemned to death when he refused to kill a group of women and children. The two warriors play a game of cat and mouse, but decide to make a short truce in order to defend a caravan carrying a holy object, that is being attacked by bandits that want to steal it.
There are plenty of well-choreographed fights, but also opportunity to think about themes such as duty and honour. You will also appreciate the beautiful scenery of the Gobi Desert, and the brilliance with which the director (He Ping) was able to tell this story.
From my point of view, this is not a film that will only please those highly interested in Asian cinema. I think that everybody that is fond of an entertaining movie will appreciate "Warriors of Heaven and Earth", even though those who like epic films will certainly like it more. Recommended!