Saving General Yang – Movie Review
Follow Genre: Action, Drama, History
Director: Ronny Yu
Distributor: Splendid Film

Saving General Yang – Movie Review

Site Score
6.8
Good: Great story, heroes of legends
Bad: Slow pace, lacks details and execution
User Score
4.8
(5 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 4.8/10 (5 votes cast)

Chinese history is always intriguing when one is able to present it in the form of a tale of heroes or epic battles. Saving General Yang is one of those movies that does its best in trying to present you a tale of legendary heroes, with some actual facts on the side.

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The story behind Saving Private Ryan Saving General Yang will take you back to the tenth century, in which the Song Dynasty still reigned supreme. General Yang Ye, a man who has proven his prowess in battle was always respected by the emperor until the impending invasion of the Khitan army. The Khitan army was already defeated in the past by our heroic general by slaying the Khitan General. Now the son of the original general commands the invading army and he is out to seek revenge, not only on the Song Dynasty itself.

Trouble begins when the two youngest of his seven sons enter a sparring match with a rivaling family, which is also ‘loved’ by the emperor. During their sparring/battle, one of the sons accidently kills the son of the rivaling family, which causes the Yang family to fall from their original grace with the emperor. Because of this, Yang Ye is instead demoted to being a frontline commander, instead of commanding the entire Song army. The title of general is now granted to Pan Mei, the father of the fallen son and thus the head of the rivaling family.

Of course, when a man like this leads an army and has the privilege of having Yang Ye, his nemesis on the frontline, he will not think twice about abandoning him when the time is right. Thus Yang Ye is abandoned and in a situation with not the best future at hand. This will set the plot for the movie and it will cause his seven sons to come to his rescue.

 Story wise the movie is based on actual Chinese history and gives us a portrait of the Yang family and how they stood for honor and their families. Whilst the topic and actual story of the movie are great, the execution is not always the same. A movie like this contains a lot of information and perhaps too much to cram in to one movie.
During the course of the movie, you will receive vague information about the Yang family but without that much depth to it. The seven sons, which call each other by their respective number (except for the eldest one) will give you the impression they are real brothers, but lack the background to truly know who they are. Each of them has their traits, abilities and what not, but the creators of the movie did their best to focus more on the actual family bond than the actual characters. This might be an understandable choice to go with the story of the movie, it sometimes feels impersonal.

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The previous explanation does not mean the cast is a bad one, the contrary in fact. It’s easy to say the casting of this movie was carefully done to create an almost realistic family. The brothers seem as if they are a real family, not only by acting but appearance as well. Yang Ye (Adam Cheng) is a man that could pass as a general with a great love for his family, keeping honor as a center point. Overall, there is not anything bad that can be said about the people that were chosen to represent the movie.

Seeing the movie revolves around war and conflicts, this means there will be a lot of battles of a high magnitude in the movie. Whilst most of them are doing quite convincingly the quality of everything around it sometimes lacks. The designers chose to create armors with high details but they might have lacked the budget to choose the right materials for the job. The same could be said for the weapons and certain special effects.
Most of the times the weapons and armor seem rubber-ish or made out of a soft plastic. The proportions of the actual battles may have also been the cause of this. Certain special effects (the scene with fire) may also come across as edited or cheaper than the rest of the movie.
Even though there is a lot of slicing and dicing, the movie shows hardly any blood and when it does it’s fairly unrealistic, during the course of battle that is.

Saving General Yang presents us with a fairly subtle, but noteworthy soundtrack. Whilst a movie with this amount of action does not present us with that many ‘battle-themed’ music , it does its best in setting the right mood.

The ‘flow’ of the movie is also something that can be seen as a small issue concerning the movie. Even though the overall story is already a fairly heavy pill to swallow, it moves along fairly slow during the first half of the movie. Even though this creates room for a bit more background on everything that’s happening, the creators decided to put their focus elsewhere. The second half of the movie is filled with battles and these have the necessary pauses to keep them enjoyable.

Conclusion

Saving General Yang is a result of the directing skills of Ronny Yu and in many ways it shows. There is a great story to be told, excellent battles to be seen and a great cast to get to know. Sadly this all comes paired with a lack of execution and perhaps a lack of budget. Nonetheless, Saving General Yang proves to be a fun but harsh movie to watch, especially for those who are curious about Chinese history mingled with a lot of action.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Z_kl-sDRsM

Note: Saving General Yang is currently available on DVD/Blu-Ray

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Rating: 4.8/10 (5 votes cast)
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Saving General Yang - Movie Review, 4.8 out of 10 based on 5 ratings

1 Comment

  1. MC_JP
    MC_JP
    January 16, 2014, 1:40 am

    the movie is fun if you are a dynastie warrior fan. because you can find yourself making jokes about it in the movie. But the weapons they have look like plastic; inclusive their armor etc.

    I would rate this move a 3/10

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