Warlords, The (Tau Ming Chong) (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner20/10/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 118 mins

Peter Chan's period epic features some spectacular battle sequences and a strong performance from Jet Li but it drags considerably in the middle section and it's hard to really engage with the story.

What's it all about?
Directed by Peter Chan, The Warlords is set during the Taiping Rebellion in China, in the late 19th century. Jet Li stars as General Pang, the sole survivor of a vicious battle, who becomes blood brothers with bandit leaders Wu Yang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Er Hu (Andy Lau) after impressing them with his fighting skills.

However, the three men find their loyalties severely tested when Pang persuades them to fight for the government against the ruling, corrupt Qing dynasty. And as if government machinations weren't enough, Pang complicates matters still further by falling in love with Er Hu's wife, Lian (Xu Jinglei), setting the stage for the inevitable showdown.

The Good
The battle sequences are spectacular and surprisingly gory, with limbs getting chopped off all over the place. They're also excitingly shot with jittery, handheld camerawork that makes you feel as if you're right in the middle of the bloodshed.

The Bad
Jet Li is excellent as the ultra-conflicted General Pang. However, the other characters suffer from thinly sketched characterisation, which makes it difficult to engage with the film on an emotional level – for example, we know next to nothing about Xu Jinglei's character, which seems odd when you consider how crucial the love triangle is to the plot.

Similarly, the screenplay never gives you a clear sense of the relationship between Er Hu and Wu Yang – we know they're close (Wu Yang's narration refers to Er Hu as his 'big brother') but we never see that closeness demonstrated and the characters are practically interchangeable at times. The film also has pacing problems and drags considerably in the middle section, though it does rally for a decent climax.

Worth seeing?
The Warlords is worth seeing for the spectacular battle sequences and for Li's performance, but it fails to deliver the emotional punch, which is a problem for a film that hinges on betrayal.

Film Trailer

Warlords, The (Tau Ming Chong) (15)
Warlords, The (Tau Ming Chong) has been reviewed by 1 users
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Content updated: 18/12/2017 12:57

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