Donnie Yen heads up the cast of yet another swordplay drama/action historical epic. How China can be such a poor country and yet manage to churn out these films in such high quality is mind blowing! Many western countries have their independent and low budget film making studios but these guys manage to make their work look like masterpieces.
Visually, the films are on a par with the best of what Hollywood can muster. The effects budgets may be low but they are used sparingly and what is really at work here is the onscreen visual delights. From costumes, and most definitely to the set design, appears such a majestic quality of work.
Of course the film can be as pretty as it wants, but you also need story, character and action for this to work. Set at the dawn of the Ming Dynasty what we find is perhaps China’s version of the western as many a warrior roams the land looking for honour and finding malice in the face of betrayal. Our hero who carries a box containing the titular weapons is loyal to a usurped emperor and must find those he can trust with helping him reclaim the throne for his leader.
This sets off many a fight sequence with some of the best wire work being done in the business. Yen isn’t too well known here but has appeared in a few Hollywood films (Blade 2 springs to mind as one of the blood pack) and has worked as a fight choreographer. He lets his face do most of the talking with his stern look telling most of his opponents that he means business.
You don’t have to be a fan of this type of film to enjoy it, but it helps. Enthusiasts will add this one to the shelf with pride.