BATTLE OF THE WARRIORS (BLU RAY)
Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
There's a battle going on during China's Warring States Period, a series of civil wars, which spanned from the 5th to the 3rd century B.C. One army runs into a peaceful village and the king of that village get one man to protect them. He's a brilliant leader with very different ideas and others suspect him.
Is it good movie?
This is a real 'little guy versus the giants' sort of movie, and really deals with the strategy of war (or being against war, if you like). Ge-li is our hero, played wonderfully by Andy Lau. He doesn't exactly love the bloodshed of war but knows it is necessary and takes precautions to make sure he doesn't end up with a bloodbath. He intends to plan for the worst, but to hope for the best. He doesn't just want to defend the place, but to keep it safe with a pacifist's message. On top of this, he knows that the village is outnumbered and that his group will have to rely on cunning and tactics rather than brute force. This isn't to say that there is no blood- there is- but there's much more to the battle than that.
Once the rulers get to see how good Li is in battle, everyone becomes jealous of him and he's got to take care of things. When I mentioned that strategy is important to this movie, it really is. You often see a scene or two of planning in a war flick but there's a lot in this one and that is kind of cool to see. I liked seeing all of the arrangements and preparation come to fruition and there's lots of 'stand and cheer' moments when the little guy can take it to the big guy.
The movie moves at a good pace, despite the fact that it's over two hours long. Andy Lau's performance is a great anchor for the film and the rest of the cast tries hard to keep up with him(Sung-Kee Ahn is quite good as Ge Li's foil). The directing by Jacob Cheung is tight and well-focused, and the film looks believable with a lot of attention to detail in terms of surroundings. This isn't a wire-fu movie with people flying around or huge epic floating sword battles (although there is the occasionally crappy CGI stuff). This is a well-told, old fashioned epic war movie that is more like The Last Samurai instead of The House of Flying Daggers.
Video / Audio
This Blu-Ray is presented in 2.35.1 widescreen and looks pretty sharp. The colors are rich and vivid, but black levels are only okay and some edge enhancement is present.
The main Audio presentation is the DTS HD 5.1 and is well balanced. It sounds great during battle scenes and everything comes through loud and clear. There's an optional English 5.1 track if you'd care to listen to that as well.
There's a commentary track with Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan, and its chock full of little tidbits. The guys knows his stuff and I know it's rude to say it, but he's easily decipherable as he speaks in clear English.
Other than that, there's a making of featurette that runs almost an hour long but is presented in SD. Lots to see here, although a fair amount of this could have been broken up into sub-chapters, but I'm picking nits.
I really liked this flick, although some might be turned off by its length. It has great battle scenes ,a different approach to the 'balls out' general war flicks and the overall presentation of the disc is pretty great.