Andy Lau, Maggie Q & Sammo Hung. A trio I would have never thought to see on the big screen together, join forces for director Daniel Lee’s (Black Mask) epic tale.
AP Photo: Kin Cheung
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I saw the lineup…especially with Maggie Q (Mission Impossible III, Live Free, Die Hard) thrown into the mix. I was quite anxious however to see Andy Lau’s (House of Flying Daggers) performance as well as Sammo Hung’s, mostly cause I hadn’t seen Sammo on screen in quite awhile.
What I got was a great interpretive story that was a cross between 300 (the graphic novel inspired Zack Snyder film) & Glory (the brilliant 1989 film directed by Edward Zwick). Funny enough, the tag line for Glory was “Their innocence. Their heritage. Their lives. Nothing would be spared in the fight for their freedom.” That’s basically what was delivered by Lee…a artistically painted picture partially depicting the novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” written by Luo Guanzhong.
This wasn’t Crouching Tiger or House of Flying Daggers. This was grander story with a much more aggressive graphic styling (a la 300).
Now, my complaints..
Ummm, firstly…way not enough Maggie Q at all! I recently stumbled upon an article on NYTimes.com (”Stuck in Asia, Dreaming of Hollywood”) discussing about how this film was to be “her most challenging role”. Yea, it could have been if she’d been given more to work with. As it stands, we get only a 20min glimpse into what could have been a truly breathtaking villainess being born. Sammo as Luo Ping-An was charismatic in small bits and pieces. Not sure if his stint as Action Director had anything to do with the choice of roles. The sequences were sometimes brilliant and sometimes hard to figure out, with many of the shots being very close shot. However, I have to give him props for the fight scene involving the young Zhao Zilong and Cao. That scene reminded me a lot of old the spaghetti westerns such as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly or Once Upon a Time in the West. My last “grr”…I wish I’d seen it in the native Mandarin Language, with English Subtitles…cause watching it in English was not great, but that’s like most translated films.
If you live for action, love Andy Lau and have even a inkling of what the novel is about, I’d recommend checking it out, especially on the big screen with all the great cinematic effects.