Dragon Blade (Tian jiang xiong shi) (Blu-ray) – Movie Review
Follow Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Director: Daniel Lee
Distributor: Splendid Film
Duration: 127 minutes

Dragon Blade (Tian jiang xiong shi) (Blu-ray) – Movie Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: Acting of the main characters, Overall story
Bad: Lip synching, Not what you'd expect
User Score
9.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

We all know how expansive the Roman empire used to be and this intriguing history lesson has made a great plot for movies, series and books, not only because they conquered a big portion of the world, but also the overall mythology that lurks behind it all. There have been a few things we haven’t really seen so far, namely Romans in the Chinese empire before the death of Christ. Unthinkable? Perhaps not completely, as documents have been discovered that suggest the Romans have been in China and even settled there to a certain extent and it’s rumored even descendants of these conquerors can still be found in China. That being said, the documents are still being disputed whether or not they’re real. That aside, the discussion opened up an interesting plot that throws Jackie Chan, Adrien Brody and John Cusack in the mix.

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Huo An (Jackie Chan) leads a rather active life as the commander of the Protection Squad that keeps the Silk Road safe. Seeing the Silk Road is the biggest trading route, many different people use this road and as we all know, different countries, nationalities and/or races tend to collide from time to time and it’s Huo An’s job to make sure it doesn’t end up in bloodshed, or even worse, an all-out war. Even though Huo An’s life has never been easy, seeing he is a Han Chinese, he is often looked down upon. Nonetheless, he is quite happy, until all of a sudden he is arrested for falsifying documents that supposedly agreed to a big transaction in gold. As expected, he is being set up, but doesn’t fight his old superiors, and simply faces his punishment, together with his men, in a local city that is being restored, all thanks to slaves. It seems the slave population has gone up with a few.

Before Huo An and his trusty men can begin their arduous task, the town gets shaken up, with the approach of Roman troops. The leader of the city decides to chase after them when they run off, but this was all according to the plan of the Romans. Many of the Chinese troops get captured, but Huo An proposes to fight their leader Lucius (John Cusack) to prevent further bloodshed. During the battle it becomes clear that the Roman troops are exhausted and that they are just looking for a place to stay and rest up, thus the battle ends with a draw as Huo An offers temporary shelter. When he later talks to Lucius, the latter tells Huo An that he is protecting Publius (Jozef Waite) from his evil older brother Tiberius (Adrien Brody). Tiberius’ hunger for power was insatiable when his father declared Publius as the next in line for the throne, thus he had to make sure to get rid of both his father and Publius. Even though a bond of friendship forms between Huo An and Lucius, it’s certain that Tiberius will come to finish the job.

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As the movie’s length is slightly over two hours, the pace is rather slow, but pleasant nonetheless. There are many fun battle scenes to see throughout the movie, as expected with Jackie Chan in the lead, but there are also a lot more relaxing scenes than one would expect, to build up the proper mood. Overall, even with the quiet moments, the movie feels just the right length and it might actually be over before you know it.

Acting performances are outstanding, mostly for the main cast that is. Jackie Chan, Adrien Brody and John Cusack play their respective roles very well, but some of the supporting cast members tend to be a bit more rough around the edges. Even though Jozef Waite is still a very young boy, the overall sense of overacting was sometimes a tad too much to make it convincing or pleasant to watch. Another small thing that hampered with the quality was the fact that Jackie Chan’s movies tend to add audio afterwards, which sometimes causes poor lip synching.

The Blu-ray release comes with very typical extra features, such as simple behind the scenes and a making of, which is of course interesting to watch if you wish to learn more about the makings of this amusing flick. Other than that there is not that much to explore, except for two music videos that remind us that Jackie Chan also has a great singing voice. (Fun fact: He has released approximately 20 albums since 1984.)

Conclusion

Dragon Blade might offer the pretext of being based on a (supposed) true story, in the end it’s just a great action adventure movie that combines great martial arts with the prowess of the historical Roman army. You’ll never be bored throughout the movie, and the story is simply enjoyable. The only mishap might be the lip synching from time to time, but that’s just a negligible issue in an otherwise great merge of Asian and Western cinema.

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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Dragon Blade (Tian jiang xiong shi) (Blu-ray) - Movie Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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