Dragon Blade, Blu-ray (2015)

A quite different sort of Jackie Chan movie, with amazing visuals.

Dragon Blade, Blu-ray (2015)

Cast: Jackie Chan, John Cusack, Adrien Brody, Sharni Vinson
Director: Daniel Lee
Studio: (Chinese) Grindstone/Lionsgate Premiere (12/22/15)
Video: 2.40:1 for 16:9 color 1080p HD
Audio: Mandarin & English, DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles: English
Extras: Behind the Scenes of Dragon Blade, Music Videos, Extended interviews with cast and crew, Trailer gallery
Length: 103 min.
Rating: ****

The accuracy of the ancient history supposedly researched by the writers of this film is far from believable. One reviewer said it only looks like they watched Gladiator a couple times and then shot it.  The plot is incoherent and the position of Chan, as the leader of first the Silk Road Protection Squad and then the leader of a renegade legion of Roman soldiers, is decidedly pro-Chinese nationalism. Nevertheless, the whole thing – never mind the campy scenery-chewing – comes across as a sincere attempt to show how the 36 different tribes involved can learn to treat each other wth respect.

One wonders occasionally about Hu An’s (Chan) fairly constant fighting tying in with his statements about peace with no fighting.  China becoming a major motion picture market has brought a number of American stars into Chinese productions – namely John Cusck and Adrien Brody in this one.  Han Hu An was raised to have a respect for all the tribes of the region, and he fights selfessly to maintain harmony along the crucial Silk Road 2000 years ago (It takes place in 48 B.C.).  It is true that Romans came into Western China at this time, and the movie ends with them being allowed to set up their own city along the Silk Road. There’s a small bit of Chan humor in his sword-play, but don’t expect this to be typical of standard Jackie Chan movie. He was only in charge of the action, not the plot or costumes.

Cusack makes a fine first adversary and then friend of Hu An, and Adrien Brody is great as the villian of the plot. Hu An and his men are framed for gold smuggling and exiled to the Wild Goose Gate where, with the help of the Romans, they must rebuild the damaged city in two week or be executed.  Odd that they have the Romans speaking English, when Latin was their tongue. The sword and sandals warfare is aptly handled, and this becomes a fascinating film, except for a couple torture closeups being overdone.

—John Sunier

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