The Warlords Movie Review (No Spoilers)


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The Warlords. A very good watch, and highly recommended by me. Definitely beats Aliens vs. Predator 2 which was panned by my brother. (Btw, ignore the Wikipedia plot summary on Warlords for now – it is all so NOT over a woman.)

But first, a warning: I don’t see how this show managed a ‘U’ for Umum (‘G’ for General Audiences). Apart from the kungfu violence, there’s plenty of blood, gore and body parts literally flying around. Note the decapitated head in this version of the movie poster:

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How is this suitable for little kiddies used to Spongebob Squarepants, or at worst, Cow & Chicken? It’s like Happy Tree Friends, only with ‘real’ human flesh. In Anne’s words, it’s as bad as that Spartan slaughterfest 300!

That aside, the film had no slow or boring parts to let my attention wane. If it’s not fast-paced mass battles (of which there are plentifuly plenty), it’s intrigue and maneuvering.

The film is an action-drama, but not drama as in high-school girls crying over boyfriends… Most of the crying is by manly men mourning truly great losses. Trust me, if they didn’t cry, they wouldn’t be REAL MEN.

In fact, the key emotion of the movie must be sadness. Grief, regret, frustration, hopelessness, desperation, sorrow, longing, and all the horrors of war.

As the historical background is not explained save for some anecdotes, one begins to wonder for what reasons so many people have to die. With Chinese history seemingly comprising an unending series of wars and suffering, it’s a wonder we got anything else like fireworks or culture accomplished.

As for the aforementioned battles… Great stuff. Focused on war campaigns as it is, you’ll see lots of large-scale battles and less one-on-one heroics. Though that doesn’t stop lone skillful heroes from holding their own against dozens of conscripted footsoldiers, with lots of Chinese classical weapons on display.

And watch for the little Christian jokes and references (like the rumour version of feeding the 5000 – so Chinese!), as the bulk of the movie is set during the Taiping rebellion (led by one of the great ever-rebellious Hakkas).

So as not to spoil the plot, I will close with some questions that the movie subtly raises:

What wins a battle? Tactics? Strategy? Politicking? Morale? Skill? Equipment and supplies? A leader’s force of personality? Sacrifice – of self and of others?

What is most important in life? Brotherhood and friendship? Romantic love? Ambition? Justice? Righteousness? Loyalty? Pride? Honour? Fairness? Victory? Life?

Do the ends justify the means? What if the ends are never achieved, are the means then ever justifiable?

And remember:

 大哥 是 對了!  

 shì duì le!

Big Brother is right!

(Phrased with help from the excellent Chinese-English + Pinyin Dictionary)

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4 Responses to “The Warlords Movie Review (No Spoilers)”

  1. Simon Thong Says:

    The predominant theme seems to be betrayal..of brotherhood, relationships, promises, anything and everything. The only people free of this are the two younger blood brothers. They suffer tragically, and so do others. Typical of Chinese history, and of much of world history, I suspect.

  2. matt Says:

    while watching the preview on tv,i couldn’t help but wonder if maybe this film was based on the dynasty warriors games.the characters look the same.the shu family in green led by 3 brothers of a pact.the wu family striving for and end to the suffering,and wei out to prove there strength.with the odd Lone Warrior trying to take all three at once (Dong Zhuo,Lu Bu)

    please write back to let me know

  3. Scott Thong Says:

    Maybe inspired by them in spirit, but Warlords takes place in the 1860s with the historical background of the Taiping Rebellion (note the guns).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Warlords

    Whereas Lu Bu and the rest of the Three Kingdoms personalities were of around 200 A.D.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%BC_Bu

  4. Soni-san Says:

    As the Japanese would say.. Watashi-wa oki o shi te, ne?

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