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I like that Daniel Lee is one of the few directors out that actually has a style one could say is his own but his pictures all look like the same. This looks like Res. Of The Dragon, and White Vengeance.

Brody is really miscast in this.

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This looks like Res. Of The Dragon, and White Vengeance.

It looks like those movies but with a ridiculous premise and a couple of obviously miscast actors.

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The Hollywood Reporter:

The big winner as the Year of the Goat began was the historical action movie Dragon Blade, starring Jackie Chan, John Cusack and Adrien Brody, which took $54.84 million in its opening four days, according to data from Entgroup. The movie had 132,874 screenings and notched up 8.14 million admissions.

Directed by Daniel Lee, Dragon Blade is based on a story about a missing legion of Roman soldiers that traveled into China in 48 BCE. The cast also includes South Korea's Choi Si-won, member of the K-pop band Super Junior, who previously appeared in Battle of Wits.

The movie took 32.6 percent of total income on the first day of the Chinese New Year and took $33 million over the holiday weekend.

Cusack plays Lucius, a Roman general who led a legion of 1,000 soldiers into Han Dynasty China. Brody plays Tiberius, who has assassinated Rome's Consul Crassus and chased after Lucius with a force of 100,000 soldiers. Chan stars as the commander of the Protectorate of the Western Regions who teams up with Lucius to protect China's borders and sovereignty.

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D. Lee has been formulaic too long now. It wouldn't hurt to change up every once in a while and venture into other types of films.

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Just read some reviews and apparently Benny the Jet doesn't even fight Jackie! What a wasted opportunity! I know they're both much much older now but come on!

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The reviews I've read haven't even mentioned the action at all. They seem to focus for more on the dramatic elements. I wonder if the action really isn't up to scratch.

Well, I would say that the action is really the only sound reason to take in this two hour spectacle set in the first half of the Han dynasty. The action is best realized in a series of one-on-one duels, even though the pretenses for those duels feel occasionally far-fetched or even outright ridiculous. First off, you get Chan’s fight with… er, well, not Benny U… but with Ling Peng of all people!

With an inadvertently tits-grabbing Chan it’s entirely played for laughs (and didn’t fail to generate them from the Chinese Lunar New Year audience in whose presence I watched the film).

But before y’all gasping… Ling Peng actually does feature prominently in DRAGON BLADE’s most accomplished and pulse-pounding action set piece. Namely the rescue and the ensuing getaway of the pupils from Chan’s tutor/wife’s school through the upper storey of the school building and then into a maze of crowded market streets while being attacked by hordes of Han stormtroopers. Lin Peng shields Chan and the kids as a spunky master archer impaling several dozen attackers. This virtuosic sequence is shot with a lot of flair, using some wonderful set decors to great effect.

Other duels like the suitably fierce Chan / Brody and Chan / Cusack swordfights, the jailbreak scene where the Romans are actually led by centurion Chan or the show battles between Roman and Chinese warriors in the fort’s market square are also inventively designed, expertly framed and definitely of the more entertaining kind.

Far less impressive are the mass clashes between the two Roman armies and assorted borderland barbarians, where the camera basically picks out isolated scenes in the middle of the mayhem, highlighting some stumbling horses, flying stuntmen and some of the requisite big battle grit’n’grime. Its all curiously unspectacular however and, when compared to, say, RED CLIFF or THE WARLORDS, it almost looks painfully pedestrian.

Other plusses beside some reasonably well choreographed action sequences? Well, there’s no third-rate gwailo actors this time, instead we’ll get Hollywood A-listers like John Cusack and Adrien Brody, albeit both saddled with bland and occasionally truly cringeworthy dialogues. And, yes, you do see where the film’s 65 million dollar budget went, the massive fortifications of the Han border garrison town with its Roman machines and rope windlasses, these are sets that don’t fail to impress. Also the vastness of the Gobi desert and its mountain vistas captured in wide angle shots makes for great viewing. Less so the CG enhancements behind the fort; and the golden-hued ones used for the flashback sequences in Rome actually look pretty terrible.

As for director Lee Yang Gong’s (Daniel Lee) presence here: aside from lots of aerial tracking shots to follow advancing armies through the rugged desert terrain that actually do recall the ones used in Lee’s WHITE VENGEANE, there isn’t much in the way of a distinctive directional style to behold. In other words, Lee comes across as more of a hired hack than, say, director Ding Shen did in his recent POLICE STORY sequel. Which means that direction-wise the film doesn’t feel any different to CZ 12 or other recent JC-helmed endeavors.

DRAGON BLADE undoubtedly has a potentially interesting pretext: the verified historical fact of the existence of a Roman Silk Road garrison town at the far-west frontier of the Han empire and the film’s set to exploit the idiosyncrasies of the cultural clash between the world’s two leading civilizations at the time. Problem is, it is played out and packed in the trappings of a rather serious historical drama, but that implied seriousness is foiled because of its puerile (and oh-so contemporary) imagination and lots of unintentionally laugh-inducing flourishes, as well as some rather flagrant ahistorical mumbo-jumbo. For instance, there’s a competitive demonstration of military skills, with the Romans showing their famous ‘turtle formation’ tactics by using their huge shields… and the Chinese, led by sifu Chan, throwin’ in a Kung Fu elementary lecture … approximately 1.500 years before KF fighting styles have ever been known to exist! You can’t help laughing out loud, a scene that could be straight outta a fuckin’ Mel Brooks movie!

But worst is the film’s central ‘Come Together’ anti-war message that’s rammed down your throat with a sledgehammer, amplified by an oftentimes truly atrocious score. And on the subject of music: DRAGON BLADE reaches its absolute low-point when the petite Roman prince (some blond kid actor) leads an obviously dubbed-over male choir singing an Italian (I think) aria, a sequence so aggressively annoying that you wish they had handed you a barf bag instead of a pair of 3 D glasses at the entrance!

So you have Chan as the mouthpiece of the film’s message, as Chinese (but really Hun-born) Commander Huo An endlessly spouting pathos-laden platitudes, synchronizing squishy, 20th Century One World-ism with Chinese government ‘soft power’ and ‘harmonious society’ ideals. Genuinely felt it all may be, but it just smacks incredibly out of place in the context of a historical epic like this (and no, irrespective of what Chan’s detractors with no inkling whatsoever of modern-day China are yapping, I never took the man as a PR agent of China's government. Meaning, his motivational prattle was certainly not scripted by the SAPPRTF or any other 'official' body, regardless of the fact that DRAGON BLADE has benefitted substantially from Chinese state fund investment. Chan, as millions of other Chinese of his generation and social rank, simply does believe in wooly and highfalutin concepts of this ilk).

Finally, what I also found quite galling was the use of language in DRAGON BLADE. When friction ensued over strategy on the fort’s main square everybody’s yelling and cursing their heads off in their native languages (Parthians, ‘White Indians’, Uighurs and many other ethnic groups that populated the farther fringes of Han China), then they’re all cheering when Chan addresses them with a fiery prep talk in standard Putonghua, presumably understanding and lapping up each & every syllable! The Romans parlay in English, of course, and so does Chan when communicating with them. Dunno, but it all felt… well, a bit Hollyweird, really.

Oh, and before I forget it: there were no outtakes. And judging by the speed they shot out of their seats the minute the credits began to roll, Chan's current audience didn't seem to miss any ...

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Dunno, but it all felt… well, a bit Hollyweird, really.

Oh, and before I forget it: there were no outtakes. And judging by the speed they shot out of their seats the minute the credits began to roll, Chan's current audience didn't seem to miss any ...

Damn! Now that's what I call a "post" Sheng. :bigsmile: Thanks for the in-depth write-up. It sounds exactly like I was expecting, based on the trailers I saw.

No out-takes? :ooh: WTF?

In short; some of the action scenes were good to watch the rest was an utter crap-fest...

even shorter..Im done with jackie Chan post 92...:nerd:

I get it Frank. But me, personally... I just can't quit you Jackie Chan! :cry:

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I enjoyed it for what it was, better than his last few efforts.. good standard of acting,some great fighting... that kid.. Uggghhhh.....

wortha watch maybe even a reqwatch on blu ray

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In short; some of the action scenes were good to watch the rest was an utter crap-fest...

even shorter..Im done with jackie Chan post 92...:nerd:

Post '92? As in you don't care for DM2? or Who Am I? or the Shanghai Noon/Knights films?

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Post '92? As in you don't care for DM2? or Who Am I? or the Shanghai Noon/Knights films?

for some reason I thought DM2 was from 92...

shanghai knight etc is just blah (To me)

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I liked it more than I thought I would. Felt less like a Daniel Lee picture than his other works. Felt like Daniel Lee got jacked by Jack. Jack wasn't bad here, though. Some of the dialog was very bad. Most of the picture was not. Flowed well and kept me interested. That kid. WTF! The guy that looked like a chick and the chick at the beginning and end, pass. That kid! Who casted that SOB?! Probably Jack. He loves putting horrible actors in his pictures(Who Am I, Mr Nice Guy). Cusack and Brody were at times ok, at times bad. As Romans? Suspend belief. Shoot that kid. Shoot the casting director.

Liked the action. Jack and He Jun bring some PO flavored chor. and some goodness. They make Cusack and Brody look like a million bucks. PO moves, hand switches, icepick grips. Nice ish. Jack's mind is still sharp as he goes Young Master lite in a sword takeaway without harming scene. Wires are better used here than when used by Nicky Li, Wo Ping, Y Kwei and Sammo. No floating here. No wtf was that. Except that kid! WTF was that! Loved the swordplay, mixing Roman style swords with Chinese blades. Loved how the armor and where placed played an integral part in the choreography. Like how everyone was kind of even but they had Brody swing so much harder to make him stronger than the rest. Loved seeing Xu Xiong Dong finally getting to show his goods. First time since looking like a king in Champions back '08. Loved that pole work and how he moved. He and the guy he fought looked good. Thanks Jack. Loved the use of shields, the arrow fight, the sword with the rope like connection on it. Thanks Jack. I really needed some choreography with some flow, that was actually good, done by screen fighters and not over edited, shot whatever.

Don't get the title though.

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I saw it few days ago and I thought it was worse than most recent films from Jackie - everything was a bit forced to me - the forced drama, the forced comedy (at times), the forced musical contest (damn I felt like I was on the Eurovison musical contest), the forsed epic scale (although the whole set was looking kinda flat and lifeless - only desert and sand and a bit of blood - Cusack and Brody were trying to give their characters something more, but thay failed - at the end fight as I was looking at some cheap rip-off of Gladiator, at any time I expect Jackie to shout: Are you not entertained!?!?!?

The fight/sword choreography was nothing special, seen such many times in different movies, Jackie tried to express some leadership and to unite tribes in the middle of nowhere, protecting the Silk Road...

Pathetic and quite washed out product, with mediocre choreography and weak characters. It was like some strange movie experiment for Jackie, but he better stick to what he was known for, although he is not in his prime anymore, if he can deliver good choreography in Chinese Zodiac and good sense of drama in Shinjuku Incident and even in Karate Kid, he could have make it better in Dragon Blade but alas...

And why the hell there were no Outtakes ant the end???

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Just read some reviews and apparently Benny the Jet doesn't even fight Jackie! What a wasted opportunity! I know they're both much much older now but come on!

Benny was just on the set as John Cusack's personal trainer since Cusack is a 7th-degree Ukidokan Black Belt under Urquidez. 

 

I saw the film and I liked it for what it was. The only issue I had was the unnecessary scenes involving Vanness Wu and Karena Lam. They didn't need to be there. 

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I just watched this. These days I check my expectations for Jackie Chan films, knowing that a) he's in his 60s now and b ) he's simply not too keen on reproducing the sort of films he made in the 80s and 90s, and is honesty trying to expand his acting range. This historical action-adventure flick finds a comfortable balance between the well-choreographed battle scenes and the drama, showing that Chan has envolved a lot since 2004's New Police Story. Unfortunately, John Cusack, who was cast because of the following he has in China, feels out of place in this movie. He's better at playing the sort of manic, comic characters that defined his career in the 90s. There's a turn of events in the last quarter of the movie that I still haven't decided if I like or not, but went against all of my expectations as to where the film was going to go. 

There's actually quite a bit of action in the movie, all of which I enjoyed. It was better than the battle sequences we saw in other Jackie Chan period pieces like The Myth and Little Big Soldier. Jackie Chan gets more than his fair share of sword fights, which he still does well, despite his advanced age and history of injuries. He also does some fast, agile, and highly coordinated handwork in disarming and taking down multiple opponents. It's nothing flashy, but I'm always glad to see Chan showing us that he's still one of the greats at age 61. An early fight scene has him taking on a cute Barbarian princess whom he defeats without using weapons by removing her veil, unwittingly turning her into his wife. Another sequence midway through the movie has the Chinese/Hun soldiers testing their fighting styles against the Roman equivalent. So we get pole vs. double sticks and sword vs. Roman shield/sword. That made for a neat contrast of techniques from different ethnicities, much like how Jackie Chan had a swordfight with an Indian fighter in The Myth. I'm a sucker for that sort of thing.

The battle scenes are pretty good by genre standards. I like how one of the barbrian tribes takes on the Roman phalanx formations with what is essentially a glorified dirt clod war. No wire-fu or super-powered horses here. The battles are bloody, although no worse than what you'd get in things like Troy or Gladiator.

I think the conclusion of the movie, after all the dust has cleared, drags a little. That's really small potatoes. If you're in the mood for some historical action and want something a little different from whatever Ridley Scott has done in the past 15 years or so (plus those that other filmmakers tried to capitalize on), Dragon Blade makes a good alternative. (OBS: I think the version I saw removed the framing sequences that I've heard about)

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1 hour ago, DrNgor said:

Jackie Chan gets more than his fair share of sword fights, which he still does well, despite his advanced age and history of injuries. He also does some fast, agile, and highly coordinated handwork in disarming and taking down multiple opponents. It's nothing flashy, but I'm always glad to see Chan showing us that he's still one of the greats at age 61. An early fight scene has him taking on a cute Barbarian princess whom he defeats without using weapons by removing her veil, unwittingly turning her into his wife. Another sequence midway through the movie has the Chinese/Hun soldiers testing their fighting styles against the Roman equivalent. So we get pole vs. double sticks and sword vs. Roman shield/sword. That made for a neat contrast of techniques from different ethnicities, much like how Jackie Chan had a swordfight with an Indian fighter in The Myth. I'm a sucker for that sort of thing.

Yeah, me, too. Okay, I'm down. I'd been avoiding this film because I'm tired of movies that hint at MA and then only give you a smattering. I'll look for a used copy.

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1 hour ago, DrNgor said:

I think the conclusion of the movie, after all the dust has cleared, drags a little. That's really small potatoes. If you're in the mood for some historical action and want something a little different from whatever Ridley Scott has done in the past 15 years or so (plus those that other filmmakers tried to capitalize on), Dragon Blade makes a good alternative. (OBS: I think the version I saw removed the framing sequences that I've heard about)

Nice write up Doc.

You have cleared any last doubts I had about giving this movie a chance DrNgor. Watched Chinese Zodiac over the festive period, and while Ive yet to post any substantial about it. Overall it wasnt half as bad as I expected. Bear in mind I didn't have huge hope's for it after all the bashing it recieved. While it's by no means a perfect movie, it caputured the spirit of his older productions better than any of his other post 2000 work, of the one's Ive seen.

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