This $65 million Chinese epic was a massive hit in its native country last year. It’s a movie that I’ve been following ever since I saw the poster online of John Cusack and Adrien Brody in Roman costume (there second collaboration since Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line) alongside Jackie Chan.
Jackie Chan plays Huo An captain of the government assigned Silk Road Protection Squad assigned by the government to keep the peace along the region, who are then wrongly accused of gold smuggling which leads to them being banished to prison outpost Wild Geese Gate.
When the outpost is raided by a roman battalion headed by General Lucius (Cusack) who then instigates a man on man fight with Huo An which is then interrupted by incoming sandstorm approaches Huo An and offers the soldiers food and shelter.
It turns out Lucius is leading an army of rebel officers who have absconded with blind, future heir Publius (Jozef Liu Waite) who’s been chosen over his scheming, treacherous older brother Tiberius (Brody). Tiberius happens to be leading a 100,000-man army along the Silk Road in hot pursuit of Lucius.
Dragon Blade, by writer/director Daniel Lee is a frustrating experience despite a interesting premise, it’s hampered by radical tonal shifts one moment you get the type of slapstick comedy expected in a Jackie Chan movie, but jars up against blood-splattered battles with arterial spray and eye-gougings.
There’s an epic-ness to the battle scenes that are brought down by jarringly bad green screen and wonky CGI work. But it’s major problem is the movies whiplash inducing editing. It feels like a film that’s been paired down for a western audience with 25 minutes cut from its over 2 hour running length.
The level of acting in Dragon Blade is all over the place Adrien Brody chooses the fey British accent/dodgy wig approach, Cusack looks like he’s having fun playing dress up (a role offered & turned down by Mel Gibson) while Chan is typically great in the action sequences but struggles in the acting department particularly in the bonding scene with the Roman general.
This UK release from signature entertainment looks great but sadly doesn’t contain any extra material or the excised footage from the films Chinese release.
Dir: Danial Lee
Scr : Danial Lee
Cast: Jackie Chan, John Cusack, Adrian Brody
Prd: Jackie Chan, Chang Bin, Susanna Tsang
Music: Henry Lai
Runtime: 127 mins
Dragon Blade available on Blu Ray and DVD now