BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Warlords
Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro's latest epic hits home video...
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If you're not yet a fan of Asian cinema, you haven't seen the right movie yet...and The Warlords might be it.
With an amazing selection of stunning films invading domestic theaters recently (including the awesome Red Cliff among others), there's no doubt fans of foreign actors like Jet Li and Andy Lau are getting a good taste of what the East has to offer.
Now, thanks to Magnolia Home Entertainment, Magnet, and the 6-Shooter Film Series, fans of Eastern cinema can get a load of the latest epic war film to hit home video: The Warlords.
Winner of eight Hong Kong Film awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Peter Chan), Best Actor (Jet Li) and Best Cinematography (Arthur Wong) among others, the film is set in China during the Taiping Rebellion in the late Qing Dynasty (1860s) and follows the story of three sword brothers who swear an oath to one another. Through many battles, political upheavals and even love affairs, the trio and their military force face insurmountable odds - both on and off the battlefield.
As one can probably surmise from the film's success at the 27th Hong Kong Film Awards, The Warlords was a spectacular blockbuster in its home country. Likewise, it's one of the most ambitious films and truly lives up to its description.
The blu-ray release of the film clocks in at 113 minutes and features a gorgeous picture in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Every color - from the rich sandy browns of the deserts to the brazen stony castle walls - come through beautifully, making this one of the most impressive videos I've watched in some time. Likewise, the 5.1 Mandarin or English DTS-HD Master Audio tracks makes for an impressive listening experiance, providing plenty of surround audio - especially during battle sequences.
The film's bonus features include a variety of different additions which should impress fans of extra material. Though not as inclusive as the film's 3-disc foreign release, the domestic blu-ray includes a number of deleted scenes (nearly 1 hours worth!) as well as nearly 40 minutes worth of featurettes, including shorts entitled everything from "The Horses" and "The Battlefield is Hell" to "True Heroes," "Life In the Trenches" and "The Fall of the Brotherhood."
The blu-ray includes an impressive look at the full production of the film in a 35 minute featurette entitled "The Warlords 117 Days: A Production Journal," which gives viewers an inside look at the 4 months it took to shoot and make the epic. There's also a seemingly forgettable 20 minute short entitled "The Warlords: Behind the Scenes Special" which includes basic film footage, a few behind-the-scenes shots, and high talk for the cast, crew and director (nothing really new here).
Another somewhat forgettable extra is HDNet's "A Look at The Warlords," a 5 minute short featuring snippets from an interview with director Peter Chan and more basic film footage. Lastly, the film's international trailer is also included.
It seems everyone in America knows Jet Li and no doubt the producers of The Warlords are thankful for that as his name recognition should get at least a few folks to check this movie out. However, once viewers get a taste of this film's amazing cinematography, action, and drama, there's more than just Jet Li to watch out for in The Warlords. One of the most epic, masterful and impressive films I've seen this year, fans of films like Braveheart and Gladiator will find it features similar themes as well as action while fans of films like Red Cliff will find the cultural aspects similar and exciting.
The Warlords is well worth the price of admission and I can't recommend it highly enough.
The Warlords is available on Blu-ray wherever fine home video are sold.
- Jess C. Horsley
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley