Review: 14 BLADES 錦衣衛 (2010) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Review: 14 BLADES 錦衣衛 (2010)

Review: 14 BLADES 錦衣衛 (2010)

Donnie Yen is Qing Long, the head bodyguard and top assassin of the Jin Yi Wei working for the emperor of Ming Dynasty. He leads a special army, which all equipped the famed "14 Blades", a set of deadly weapons stored in a box carried around on their backs. Eight of the blades are meant for torture, five for killing, and the last one is for suicide if a Jin Yi Wei member fails to accomplish his mission. They are ruthless and has no sympathy whatsoever. But the Jin Yi Wei brotherhood is quickly falling apart when Qing Long is betrayed by evil eunuch Jia (Law Kar-Ying) and corrupted Jin Yi Wei member Xuan Wu (Singaporean actor Qi Yuwu). Apparently, Xuan Wu is responsible for masterminding the killing of some of the righteous Jin Yi Wei members before leading the rest in a manhunt for Qing Long. Qing Long becomes a fugitive and manages to escape from the now-corrupted Jin Yi Wei. En route, he meets Qiao Hua (Vicki Zhao), daughter of the Justice Escort agency founder (Wu Ma) and kidnaps her. He warns her father to spread false information on his whereabouts or else he have to kill her. At first, Qiao Hua treats Qing Long as enemies but Qing Long has gradually found inner peace and starts to fall in love with her.In the meantime, a female assassin named Tou Tou (Kate Tsui) is sent over to seek and kill Qing Long at all cost. Rounding up the story, is Judge (Wu Chun of the Taiwanese boy band Fahrenheit), the leader of bandits who hunt for valuable goods.

REVIEW: So far, it has been a jinx for Donnie Yen when comes to wuxia pian genre -- with neither 2005's SEVEN SWORDS, 2008's AN EMPRESS AND THE WARRIORS nor PAINTED SKIN, manage to hit jackpot whatsoever. However, 14 BLADES manages to prove this is at least his decent role ever tackled. It's fairly entertaining as far as the genre goes, but remains a minor disappointment, no thanks to director Daniel Lee's pedestrian style-over-substance direction that plagues his recent efforts (read: DRAGON SQUAD and THREE KINGDOMS: RESURRECTION OF THE DRAGON).

Daniel Lee and Abe Kwong's screenplay is painfully routine which filled with stilted dialogues and over-expository scenarios. At times it's quite a chore to sit through, but thankfully the action scenes manage to save this movie from a total failure, if not up to the expectation as the hype suggests. Among the highlights is the "spinning coin" duel between Donnie Yen and Wu Chun, a forest brawl between Kate Tsui and Wu Chun, and a duel-to-the-death scene in a ruined temple between Donnie Yen and Kate Tsui. The fight scene is quite stylish and entertaining to watch for, except the fact that Ku Huen-Chiu's so-so choreography and the ever-annoying presence of CG to enhance the set-pieces spoiled half the fun.

The cast is moderate at best. Donnie Yen is wooden as always, except that he comes good when he is engaged in fisticuffs. Thankfully, the rest of the supporting actors manage to bring some necessary gravitas to their respective roles. Vicki Zhao brings a better-than-average performance as Qing Long's love interest; newcomer Wu Chun strikes an engaging presence as the dashing Judge while manages to convince the viewers with his own fight scenes. Kate Tsui is wickedly playful as the sneaky assassin Tou Tou, though her occasional grunts during the fight scene are pretty annoying.

Technical credits are decent and eye-catching, especially it's gorgeous costume design that evokes the exotic touch of Middle-Eastern undertones.

Just like Daniel Lee's previous directorial efforts in DRAGON SQUAD and THREE KINGDOMS: RESURRECTION OF THE DRAGON, 14 BLADES is all style but little substance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

crz: boooring....