Emotionless. Cold Blood. Iron Hands. Life Snatcher. These are the four superpowered members of the Divine Constabulary. Set during the late Northern Song Dynasty, the Four use their special abilities to solve cases and combat evil while working under their chief, Master Zhuge.
If you have not heard of The Four, you are not alone; the superhero blockbusters are most famous in China. These martial arts fantasy films mix Western style superhero storytelling with traditional Chinese elements. They are also loosely interpret Woon Swee Oan's novels, 四大名捕 (The Four Great Constables). If you are in the market for a new band of superheroes to root for, here are three reasons you need to watch The Four:
1. The Characters
While they have been likened to the X-Men films, there is no denying that these characters and their adventures are each unique in their own ways. The characters are surprisingly well defined, with their stories and personalities unfolding over the three films. Viewers will find themselves devoted to the Four as a whole. Meet the heroes whose company you will enjoy during these films:
Emotionless: Both telekinetic and telepathic, Emotionless is more capable than anyone realizes, despite dealing with a dark past.
Cold Blood: Raised alongside wolves, Cold Blood can transform into a wolf and has a heightened sense of smell and superior martial arts skills.
Iron Hands: An expert blacksmith, Iron Fist is gifted with exceptionally strong fists.
Life Snatcher: A master thief, Life Snatcher is cunning, quick, and enjoys a good (couple) cups of wine.
Zhuge Zhenwo: The leader of the Divine Constabulary, Zhuge Zhenwo plays the role of a mentor among his younger peers. He is powerful in his own right, and is often the voice of reason.
2. Plots That Keep You Thinking
The trilogy kicks off with The Four, which sees the mysterious Divine Constabulary, working for the Emperor, clashing with Department Six, the local law enforcement bureau, over a counterfeit money case designed by the mystical and sinister An Shigeng. In his attempt to bring chaos to the empire and take the thrown, An Shigeng goes even further, raising an army of the undead. The Four could work as a standalone film, but for those who want more, there is The Lawless Kingdom and Kingdom of Blood.
The Four films are riddled with subplots, mystery, and intrigue. Unlike many "kung fu" movies, these films make a point of focusing on the characters and the relationships that unfold between them. The narratives can, at times, appear to jump around almost as much as the characters do in their Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon inspired way, but the overall cohesiveness of the plots does not suffer because of this.
3. They Are Stunning
A period piece set during the the late Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127), The Four movies take place in elaborate environments brought to life by imaginative sets and CGI that does not overbear. The beauty and magic of ancient China explodes to life through the films, from the local watering hole to the forests and mountains.
Beyond pleasing the eyes, the films also have beautiful musical scores. Henry Lai's score in the first film is particularly wonderful, serving up a mix of a instrumental rock that is unexpected, yet well executed.
If you are a fan of kung fu movies, period pieces, and superheroes tales, than you owe it to yourself to check out The Four trilogy.
Have you seen 'The Four' trilogy? Tell us what you think of the films in the comments below.