Just came back from a screening of The Warlords directed by Peter Chan and starring Jet Li, Andy Lau (sigh) and Takeshi Kaneshiro (double sigh) at Leammle's - thanks Giant Robot! Some people call this a martial arts film but I don't agree. Just because there are Asian people fighting doesn't make it a martial arts film people! There were some good moments during the fight scenes but overall nothing compared to the real old school Chinese films or even House of Flying Daggers for that matter. That's fine by me as I get a bit squeamish when there's too much violence and this was just barely crossing that line.
I'm not a huge fan of Jet Li but I liked him in this movie. His character is a bit all over the place and is totally hate-able by the end but he plays his part well and the writers may be to blame here. He also got FAT for this movie, ahahaha, jsut kidding...sort of. Andy Lau is also very good in this one but then again he's always good, in my opinion. :) I just wish he got more screen time! He is such a talented actor and his character is a nice foil to Jet Li's I'm surprised they didn't get deeper into that relationship, especially since it's supposed to be about the relationship between the three brothers. Takeshi Kaneshiro is so devastatingly good looking it's hard to not focus on how handsome he is (ok, so maybe it's just hard for me to not focus on how handsome he is :P) but he was very good as well, which was a HUGE surprise. I swore I would jump off the Takeshi bandwagon after I saw K-20 which is quite possibly his worst, if not the worst movie ever. The plot was terrible, the writing was bad (or at the least the translation was), his acting was bad, and it went on for far too long. I was hoping this would redeem him him and it certainly did. Maybe he should do more period pieces, it seems to be working out for him. Then again I haven't seen Red Cliff yet, and I hear he is just barely passible in that one. He definitely got more face time than Andy but I still wasn't able to connect or understand his character any better than Andy's. Although I hear a scene got cut near the end that director Peter Chan said was so good he would have been nominated for best actor had it made the cut. I guess you can see it on the DVD though.
Overall it was a good movie with a ton of star power behind it. Unfortunately it suffered in other areas especially where the characters are concerned. It was hard to understand the actions and motivations of the three protagonists at times and why they did what they did other than their own sense of rightness in their decisions. I really wish it would have fleshed out their relationship more since that was what the movie was supposed to be about and having that insight would have made the characters richer and more relatable. For a movie that is just a hair over 2 hours there was not enough there for me to develop any sort of emotional connection even though I wanted to. There were moments when it got close but then they would just return to a close up of Jet Li's face and that was that. Also, what was up with Andy shaving off all his hair mid-movie?? I had to lean over and ask my friend if that was Er-Hu or a new character! Confusing... Also, a lot of action was predictable and it was more like a waiting game to see when it would come to fruition, which it eventually did. There were a few surprise moments in there that I didn't see coming though, and enough of them to not make me zone out or lose interest completely. Definitely one you want to see on the big screen, and with friends. I'd be a little depressed afterward if I had to watch it alone.
Also, for anyone who has seen it, what happens with Takeshi's character in the end?? I can't figure out what that was all about....