Director: Ding Sheng
Starring: Jackie Chan, Lee Wang-hom, Yoo Sung-jun, Peng Lin, Yuming Du, Song Jin, Yu Ruongguang, Wang Baoqiang
With the recent deluge of period films coming out of Hong Kong recently, it seems only natural that Jackie Chan would throw his hat into the arena as well, at least in a more traditional sense than his other recent fantasy film, The Myth. The film centers around an older Liang foot soldier (Jackie Chan) who survives a massive battle with Wei that has decimated both sides. A young but capable Wei general (Leehom Wang) is injured and it is the foot soldier’s plan to bring the general back to Liang for a reward of land and military exemption. Along the way, the odd couple face multiple factions that wish to capture or kill both of them, and they end up having to rely on each other in order to survive. Those familiar with the Warring States period, popularized by the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novels and its numerous re-iterations, can figure out how the film ends.
First of all, this is not a film that those who are looking for epic battle scenes or a large amount of kung fu fighting will necessarily be satisfied. That being said, the film showcases some very good acting from Jackie who can somehow juggle his trademarked slapstick brand of comedy with the darker elements of war. The majority of the film centers on Jackie and Leehom and the chemistry between the two actors of different generations works very well, surprisingly so considering to differing bodies of work between the two leads. That the acting is quite good does not mean that the film lacks in action. With a number of action scenes, the film uses the action scenes as moments were the leads can build trust with each other and while there is nothing too jaw-dropping, at least to genre fans, the choreography is very effective and hardly boring.
For the most part, many will consider this film a return to form for Jackie, especially considering his somewhat disappointing Hollywood entries in recent years. I definitely would consider this one of his best films in years, but for those that have been watching his work for as long as he has been working, it will stand as a solid, if a bit forgettable film.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: The Myth, Empress and the Warriors, and Midnight Run