ByMirza Mohd S Baig, writer at
Mirza Mohd S Baig

Right from the trailer to its title, this film has a bad direct to DVD swords & sandals action movie vibe written all over it! That may be contributed also due to current B movie status of John Cusack & Adrien Brody! But It's not everyday that you see movies like these coming out of Hollywood or mainstream media. Apparently its one of the most expensive Chinese produced films ever! Granted there were some mistakes and plot holes like how in the heck did a Roman Legion on the run from the very center of the empire make its way all the way through the Silk Road? Or the lousy background of keeping a fragile sense of peace among the 48 nations contesting the route. Or even the Romans enlisting the help of its lifelong enemies the Parthians. Suspension of belief and historical inaccuracies aside, this film is actually a heartwarming story of loyalty & sacrifice, about rising against all odds and true friendship that encompasses all nations and creeds that everyone will understand. It's a portrayal of what it means to truly be a friend and a man who sticks by his principles. Maybe that's why this film gets flack, because our standards today have become so dull that it's now a sin to be a human and to act like a human. The film may be considered as an odd endeavor in epic historical film, it copies too many aspects of already known formula in hope that the success can be transmitted here. It has choppy direction and all sorts of issues, but the movie sometimes brings some good elements, which might just be enough for light entertainment. The story opens with a prologue set in the present day, when two archaeologists (Vanness Wu and Karena Lam) set out to find an ancient city known as Regum hidden high above the mountains in the Silk Road region. As the opening title is presented, we are taken back to 480 BC, when peace was as precious a commodity as gold in the restive region, which saw a total of 36 nations fighting to claim their rights over the land. On the brink of a war between two of them – the Huns and the White Indians – General Huo (Jackie Chan) & his Silk Road Protection Squad, a small but fiercely loyal band of men given the seemingly impossible task of keeping the peace. Even at the risk of danger to his life, Huo An resolutely refuses to pull a weapon against the Huns' icy warrior Cold Moon (Lin Peng). Framed for treason, Huo An turns the other cheek and readily accepts his and his men's punishment to be sent away to a ravaged city known as Wild Geese Gate. And when conflict breaks out amongst the various factions of inmates within the city, Huo An steps in to urge peace, even though everyone else seems to be itching to get at the others throats. After being set up for illegally transporting gold, the squad are imprisoned & banished for the rest of their sentence as labors to build Regum. Things start going crazy, once General Lucius (John Cusack) shows up with his cavalry. Lucius is fleeing the eldest son of one of the two serving Consuls, who had murdered his father and intends to murder his younger brother Publius (Jozef Waite) to claim the throne. Needless to say, Lucius' alliance with Huo An brings the Roman conflict to their doorstep, in the form of the villainous Tiberius (Adrien Brody). The film delivers on its promise of sprawling battle scenes, meticulously crafted sword fights, intriguing culture clashes, and budding bromances, where its giddily high concept and unlikely casting may so easily have seen it fail. It's an unparalleled meeting of Eastern and Western talent. This kind of film truly reminds me why I enjoy Asian cinema. This take here the mix of martial arts and Jackie Chan, kind of sword play (typical Chinese which as awesome), mixed cast from various nations to throw in so many nations and trifles in just 2 hours and without rushing anything. Now that is something I find truly impressive and extremely refreshing. Maybe there is a couple of flaws here and there, like the ruin in the very beginning of the show that's not old enough and for another keen eyes, this might kill the mood, because basically, we were promised a story that (might) happened thousand years ago. But truth be told, it was not really a problem, since the ruin itself is just a fake one, created to fit into the real story of Silk Road. Story-wise, some of you might find it cheesy and predictable. Some of you might even say that the character Chan played (Huo An), was unbelievably too kind, like he was just character from a fairytale. Is it really like that? If you follow the story and try to delve into the character of Huo An, to every tragedy ever happened to him (told in the story), you might understand why he always talk about peace. Jackie Chan is a star in his own right. He's not that well versed in acting, but audience would know what to expect at this point. Or maybe how Cusack was not cut out for the role of Roman Empire general, Lucius? Don't think so. He actually played the role real good, he could showed how it feels to be betrayed, to hate and to trust. Brody as the villain Tiberius, has also done a very great job. You could see his character in a whole new way, the way he lust for power and ambitions. The twisted way of a mad man ready to betray (and kill, as already told in the trailer) his own family. A beastly antagonist, he delivers a menacing on-screen persona. To me, Jackie Chan along with director Daniel Lee has managed to pull this out quite remarkably. On the whole, in a time of remakes & reboots, a film like 'Dragon Blade' feels refreshing, a homage to the film of 90s & early 2000s. With sincere performances & enjoyable cinematography, this East meets West adventure film is a great popcorn watch!


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