During the 16th century, Japanese pirates proliferate along the Chinese coastline. In 1557, the pirates take over Cengang in Zhejiang. After months of futile advances, Commander Yu (Sammo ...
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During the 16th century, Japanese pirates proliferate along the Chinese coastline. In 1557, the pirates take over Cengang in Zhejiang. After months of futile advances, Commander Yu (Sammo Hung) finally defeats them under the leadership of newly promoted General Qi (Vincent Zhao). The Pirates, however, manage to escape.
Towards the end of the movie, the Ming army crosses the mud flats in daylight. By the time they get to the pier which should only take 15 minutes or so, it is the dead of night. See more »
A decent flick with strengths and weaknesses
I watched this on Netflix, and their discription of the film was something along the lines of "a maverick leader and a clever young general take on the Japanese pirates amid bureaucratic intrigue in Ming Dynasty China".
In reality, the film is more "a clever young general takes on Japanese pirates" with bureaucratic intrigue in Ming Dynasty China as a mere backdrop. The film does alllude to bureaucratic politics in the first half of the film, but it is left to the wayside into the second half with no mention of it at the conclusion of the story. We're sort of left hanging about the characters who appeared in the first half that were involved in the politics of the Ming Dynasty.
The second half of the film focuses on two battles - and that's fine. However with a fairly crowded cast, some of the characters' death are left me feeling unempathetic. Had the film focused on developing these certain characters more in the first half of the film, it would've been more impactful. We simply didn't get time to grow attached to the characters that die.
Personally, I think the movie would've been better if it just focused on the general chasing the pirates and with very light sprinkles of his maverick leader trying to get him the funds for his army. Then the first half of the film could focus on the general training his troops, and the second half can be the battles.
The movie also gets bogged down with comedic scenes between the General and his wife. I found it touching and funny, but it did make me stop and wonder when the battles were going to happen, this film is around the 2hr mark.
However, these scenes were all to humanise the General and his wife, who plays an integral part in one of the battles later on in the film. She ticks the standard "badass waifu" that we all wish had our backs, and the actress does a pretty good job of convincing me that she's exhaustedly and desperately hacking away at Japanese soldiers.
Now it would be jarring to see a 5ft6 petite woman carving her way through katanna wielding troops, but the film does it in a way that she manages to get the jump on them in the heat of battle, rather than going toe to toe with countless men. And of course, a few people have to bail her out in battle - she's not a Mary Sue (which is to be expected because Asian cinema knows how to write strong yet not overpowered female characters) So point in favour to the creative minds behind that.
Next up, I appreciate how the film takes the time to develop the Japanese characters, from the wise leader, to the young and honourable samurai, and the dishonourable ronins.
The film makes a clear distinction that the ronin are the ones doing the messy work, and are barbaric in their behaviour much to the disgust of their samurai leaders. The samurai aren't the cliche evil Japanese characters we see so much in Chinese film, which is a nice change of pace for once. "Ip Man" was a bit too heavy handed on the anti-Japanese sentiment.
Finally we have the action. It's good, no shaky cam and well choreographed scenes make it worth the wait. It's no "Red Cliff", but it is more than adequate and not as fantastical as other similar epics such as "The Curse of the Golden Flower" - which is a good thing.
Overall, I enjoyed the film and the battle scenes definitely made up for the wait.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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