The Lost Bladesman.
You know, I really wanted to like this movie. I’m a secret Three Kingdoms fanatic and we’re talking about Guan Yu here; the all-revered, OG badass of the East. Not only that, Donnie Yen was to play this kung fu deity; it really seemed like this was a film to really look forward to.
But just like the title, it felt a bit….well, lost.
For those that might not be versed in the Three Kingdoms history, Guan Yu served under Liu Bei until he was captured by Wei General, Cao Cao. By using Guan Yu’s strict adherence to his own personal ideals of righteousness, Cao Cao was able to have him slay Yan Liang at the Battle of Boma. Despite knowing that Guan Yu plans to leave his service to return to Liu Bei, Cao Cao admires him because of his strong sense of honor. Though he lets Guan Yu go, Cao Cao’s generals refuse to let him go back to his lord so easily and this makes up the plot of the film. Directed by Felix Chong and Alan Mak, this was supposed to be an epic retelling of a hero’s journey back while facing insurmountable odds, but it fell flat to where it wanted to be.
The problem is that Guan Yu is really a one-sided character, so to speak. He’s a heroic figure, through and through. No amount of trials and tribulations would change him because he’s heroic to a fault. He faces every situation with the steel will of his code of honor. Essentially, he’s kind of a boring character to really write about and casting Donnie Yen to this kind of exudes that fact as well. Donnie plays the “every man” part really well, we have seen this in the Ip Man series and even in Kung Fu Jungle; which gives his performance for a drab script like this to be too much of a bore. The character really had only two modes of emotion, angry and confused.
That’s it. And for a movie about the Chinese God of War to be so boring…it really was a let down.
Even the fights weren’t anything amazing in the ability of what Donnie Yen can do. The action was too little with too much in between. Now, I’m not saying that I wanted the whole movie to be an action extravaganza but when there is a movie with Donnie Yen playing as Guan Yu…I expected more. I mean, there was an implied action scene where the fight begins behind closed doors, then you hear sound effects, then the door opens and everyone is dead while Guan Yu stands in the aftermath.
I wanna see Donnie Yen fight.
That scene was a cop out.
Overall, I think Chong’s and Mak’s execution of this film from fell a bit short from its intended target, I believe. You have such a fantastical character in one of the most epic lore ever told with such colorful characters, events, and plot twists…but the script wanted to tell it in such a melodramatic, drab way that everything lost its magic.
Still, if you’re interested, there are a few fight scenes in here worth watching as you don’t see much quality weapon choreography nowadays. Then again, we know that Donnie can do so much better (ahem*herofightsceneoronceuponatimeinchina2*ahem)