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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood brothers at arms
The Warlords is a thin slice of Chinas turbulant history , on an epic scale. Set during the Taiping Rebellion, it focuses on the famine and war that engulfed the country for many years, during the Qing Dynasty. It is also based on the true story of an unsolved crime.
The film revolves around three men, bonded together by a blood oath, that is stretched to...
Published on 27 Feb. 2009 by D. Taylor

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lack of action meant it started to drag for me
Not the best example of chinese cinema, although still epic. The scale of the film is grand and it enjoys some excellent battle scenes. However in the end, for me the film began to drag.

Based on a true story, the tale follows three blood brother who command an army in a time of unrest in China's past.

It starts well and the first quarter of the film...
Published on 10 Dec. 2010 by The Truth


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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood brothers at arms, 27 Feb. 2009
By 
D. Taylor - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Warlords [2008] [DVD] (DVD)
The Warlords is a thin slice of Chinas turbulant history , on an epic scale. Set during the Taiping Rebellion, it focuses on the famine and war that engulfed the country for many years, during the Qing Dynasty. It is also based on the true story of an unsolved crime.
The film revolves around three men, bonded together by a blood oath, that is stretched to breaking point by the tragedy and desparation of war. Jet Li is Pang, a general whose troops have been slaughtered in a massacre, and is then taken in by a bandit village. Their leader, Zhao (Andy Lau), with his right hand man, Jiang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) lead their small bandit army on raids to steal food for the villagers, in order to survive. Pang manages to convince them to join the army with him, using the incentive of regular money and food for all, so they can bring the war to a quicker end, and regain some of his dignity in the process.
The film is spread over a few years (the passing of time only evident by the varying degrees of our heroes facial hair) and pulls no punches in its portrayal of war and the harrowing effects on both sides. The battle scenes are spectacular when on a large scale, and wince inducing when focusing on close up combat.
The blood brothers are played magnificently by three of Asias' finest. Jet Li proves just how powerful an actor he can be, effortlessly demonstrating a blinkered obsession with his need to rid his country of oppression, at any cost. Andy Lau (Infernal Affairs, Battle of Wits) gives a scene stealing performance as the bandit leader, loved by his followers, and respected by his enemies. The taking of Suzhou and his pleas for the prisoners, is all the more heartbreaking, knowing it is based on truth. The youngest of the three, Jiang (House of Flying Daggers, Takeshi Kaneshiro) is possibly the most tormented, frequently having to choose between loyalty to Zhao, his life long friend, and following Pang as he does what is best for their country.
A sub plot is the love triangle between Pang and Lian, ( Xu Jinglei) wife of Zhao. It in no way distracts from the story, but is pivotal in its development.
The Warlords was released across China in 2007 and won eight of its twelve nominations in the Hong Kong Film awards. They included Best Actor (Jet Li), Best Film and Best Director (Peter Chan). I was fortunate enough to see this film at the cinema. It had only a limited release, and consequently did not do that well. Yes, it is subtitled, and yes, you will probably only know Jet Li, but it is well worth watching. A hugely enjoyable film, amazing performances, and not a wire in sight.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lack of action meant it started to drag for me, 10 Dec. 2010
By 
The Truth "How it is" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Warlords [Blu-ray] [2008] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
Not the best example of chinese cinema, although still epic. The scale of the film is grand and it enjoys some excellent battle scenes. However in the end, for me the film began to drag.

Based on a true story, the tale follows three blood brother who command an army in a time of unrest in China's past.

It starts well and the first quarter of the film delivers, but the pace of the story slows and then concentrates on the poilitcs between the powers that be, the generals and armies, and also the three brothers.

The costumes and scenery are all great, as we've come to expect from this type of film but I would recommend Battle Of Wits [Blu Ray] [2007] [DVD]over this any day of the week.

I lost interest after a while and thought about switching it off on more than one occasion, and coming back to it later. In the end though I perservered. I'm glad I did as I found myself just wanting to get it over and done with; now I don't have to come back to it.

It was an OK watch but there are much better examples of chinese cinema out there.The afor mentioned 'Battle Of Wits' being one of them. Also the film is not the best example of a Blu Ray transfer with the quality of picture not as sharp as I'd have liked.

For such a big, and what should have been,impressive film I am struggling to find things to write and tell you about. Not a good sign. Again though, I would state that there are one or two excellent fight scenes and battles - one in particular was very good. I just wish there had been more of them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Warlords, 3 Jun. 2009
By 
Raymond J. Nyland "Styxx" (Armidale, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Warlords [Blu-ray] [2008] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
The Warlords is set during the time of the Taiping rebellion in China during which millions in southern China died from warfare, starvation and disease. It was a bleak period of Chinese history, and The Warlords reflects this in many of its aspects - including script, production design and colour palate. The film opens with a betrayal and a massacre, explores themes of brotherhood, idealism and loyalty, and ends with another betrayal. Despite the staring role of Jet Li, this is not a martial arts film, and it has no use for vibrant colours or characters floating in trees or across lakes; instead the battles are bloody, intense and brutal. It is not a time for heroes; it is a period when edged weapons and cannons meet, and trench and siege warfare occurred amid dirt and starvation. The colour palate is deliberately washed out, grainy and muted, fairly usual in historical epics these days. This is certainly not Hero, or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; think more Braveheart in scope and execution.

As an epic the film works very well. The themes of love, brotherhood and betrayal are universal; the battles and set pieces stunning. The cast, including Jet Li as General Pang, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro as his blood brothers, and Xu Jinglei as Lian are excellent. Each has their own, clearly defined journey in the film that reaches a logical and deadly resolution. So while the film is epic in scope and execution, it is grounded in recognisable individual human emotions and actions and we never lose sight of the perils, and causalities, of war.

The Blu-ray is a good representation of the film; the colour palate is effective, the blacks solid, the sound good. The extras, including the production journal, worth watching. Highly recommended.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare combination., 15 Mar. 2009
By 
Mr. T. A. Maurice "Film Addict" (Essex,England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Warlords [Blu-ray] [2008] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
This film is indeed a rare combination of spectacular action sequences,both on a small and epic scale,combined with a script that provides not only depth to characters,thus allowing actors to demonstrate their talents to the full,but also the background within court circles of plotting,and counter plotting.
Anyone who doubts Jet Li's ability as an actor will have to revise their opinion on seeing his performance in this film.
Anyone who has admired Andy Lau's performances will not be disappointed.
The Picture Quality of this Blu-ray disc is excellent,and is well worth the premium over the SDDVD.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jet Li at his best!, 7 Nov. 2009
By 
:) "Knows" - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Warlords [2008] [DVD] (DVD)
Another Chinese film martial arts film? No! A war film, based on true events, bloody, gritty, and brilliant. Once again in Chinese with subtitles, but it works. Jet Li is superb, perhaps at his best. Andy Lau is a stunning actor, and none more so than here. The action is good, not a flying anything in sight, which is good, and the blood flows thick and fast, but happily not gratuitously. Good story, good acting and good action, highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb film that you must see., 1 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Warlords [Blu-ray] [2008] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
I totally forgot about this film after it was first released and snapped up the Blu-Ray film.
Watching this on my Pioneer PDP 5090H is amazing.
The quality of the picture and sound (I choose 7.1) was excellent.
The acting is first rate and I mean really good. Andy Lau is brilliant as is Jet Li and Takeshi Kaneshiro.
If you liked House of Flying Daggers then you'll like this. The story is more complex than the former.
Add in quality battle scenes, amazing costume design, great film settings and you get an amazing experience.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Warlords, 19 April 2009
By 
M. I. Duguid "mandyrene" (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Warlords [2008] [DVD] (DVD)
Very well made action film relating to 3 warriors who became warlords. Jet Lee plays a serious ambitious soldier who becomes one of the warlords. He wants power for himself and does whatever he can to gain this (in the name of justice).
The film is a true story and reasonably accurate. However, although I like action films and Jet Lee as an actor, this movie did little for me by way of entertainment. It was dark and broody and although it is well made and produced I don't think I will view this again.
For those who like Warlord kind of films this is definately for you, the action during the battle/fighting scenes are first class.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An average war/adventure movie, promising a lot in first 30 minutes but disappointing in the remaining time, 23 May 2014
By 
Maciej "Darth Maciek" (Darth Maciek is out there...) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Warlords [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I found this 2007 Chinese film watchable, but nothing more and it is a pity, because it had potential for so much more... Below, more of my impressions, with some spoilers.

This film tells the story of three very different men (one imperial general and two bandits) who meet and conclude a pact of brotherhood in the middle of the Taiping War (1850-1864), an incredibly violent and tragic conflict which caused quite possibly as much as 20 million dead - making it the second deadliest war in the whole history of humanity (only Second World War killed more people).

A big budget super production about such an enormous and destructive war was a great idea - but the result is not as good as could be expected. The film is long and there is not enough story to fill the 127 minutes. Battle scenes are disappointing and we can hardly see on the screen where the heck went the amount of money spend on making this film. Chinese armies of Taiping War were colourful and spectacular - and what we see on the screen is neither.

Because this is a Chinese story there is of course some elaborate intriguing, plotting and backstabbing, but we saw this kind of things already on the screen many times - and they were shown much better. It must also be said that Jet Li is not really an actor - he is a martial arts specialist, and when in a film he is not allowed to kick and scream, he seems as paralyzed as a bird staring at a snake... He got 15 million USD for this film - and in my modest opinion he didn't earn it...

That being said the film has also some merits. Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro are real actors and it shows on the screen. Xu Jinglei is a very attractive woman and even if her screen time is ultimately limited, it is a pleasure to watch her. This film also avoids - very wisely - showing idiotic kung fu which so badly damaged so many potentially good Asian films... And yes, there are some good scenes, although they become rare in the second half of the film.

Bottom line, this is an average war/adventure film, watchable once and recommended for renting rather than buying. Sadly, a really good, epic film about the Taiping War still remains to be made.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chinese Braveheart?, 5 May 2013
By 
This review is from: Warlords [2008] [DVD] (DVD)
The basic story - three men swear a blood oath, do great things in war, then fall apart over hard decisions and a woman - is fine. They are all nicely far more complex characters than in most Hollywood films. And there are areas where it tries to be realistic: Jet Li isn't assisted by wires to be superhuman here, for example, even if someone is able to cut off rather a lot of feet with a single sweep of a blade.

What's missing, for the vast bulk of its Western audience, is any context. There's a scrolled intro which talks about being set in the Taiping Rebellion, but when the heroine gives Jet Li a crucifix on a necklace for protection, this has a pile of resonances for people who know the leader of the rebellion was convinced he was the brother of Jesus. Similarly, there are scenes showing the workings of the court, but nothing about the shock they've just had from losing the Second Opium War or that the most effective force they had against the rebels was 'Chinese' Gordon's small European trained and led 'Ever Victorious Army' - they were the ones who actually recaptured Suzhou.

And you'd never know that the fall of Nanjing (given its contemporary English name of Nanking here) took a four month siege, ending with extensive street to street fighting, followed by massive slaughter, looting and destruction by fire. The whole 120 mile approach and capture is supposed to have happened in three days here, and there's no sign of any fighting in the city.

Adapting the true story of the murder of a loyal general following success in the war against the Taiping was an interesting choice for a Chinese-made film: in 20th Century China, despite big differences in beliefs, both nationalists and communists saw the previous century's rebels as the good guys. So it's perhaps not a surprise that the best - in terms of behaviour - character is a Taiping leader, who sacrifices himself to end a siege and save his men and civilians.

As far as the presentation goes, the DVD quality is fine, helped by the way that for most of it, the film is deliberately shot in an almost monochrome palette. There are far too many trailers at the start (if you want to include trailers, put them in a menu item!) but they are skipable with repeated presses of the next chapter button.

The deleted scenes, some cut from the original release to shorten it for Western consumption, are a mixed bag. The ones with the pair of soldiers should have stayed, as should the return of the wounded to the village and the departure of the heroine, but others probably shouldn't have been in any version. Some still have green screens visible.

So it's a dramatic story of allies and betrayal set in a rebellion, epic in scope, and the history is dubious. It's better than Braveheart, but it's probably not something you want to watch twice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A feast for epic-lovers, 10 Sept. 2010
By 
O. Ford (Yorkshire / Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Warlords [2008] [DVD] (DVD)
The Warlords is a film which takes its `epic' tag very seriously. Every battle (of which there are many) is accompanied with the usual imposing percussion and chest-thumping melodrama. I didn't know anything about the Taiping Rebellion before watching this film - and I still don't know much about it now - something to do with Christianity. It doesn't matter, because Warlords is all about its three lead characters (played by Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro) and how their friendship (sorry, `brotherhood', for what it is worth) bends and breaks whilst they work their way up through the Imperial Chinese army. Li, Lau and Kaneshiro all turn in believable performances, Li in particular undergoing an impressive transformation as Qingyun.

The aforementioned tiffs are well directed and shot (and refreshingly physical when compared to previous Chinese epics popular in the West - none of Hero's flouncy wire-work here) and the entire film is wrapped in red and gold and dust, giving it a distinct `look'. However, were it not for a few scenes in which the ethical dilemmas lying behind much armed conflict are explored, the film would lack substance. For a film all about three men and their relationships with each other, there is not enough character development - much has to be assumed and filled in by the viewer. Li's character in particular could do with a fleshed-out back-story, because as it stands he is no less of an enigma at the end than at the beginning, despite Qingyun's aforementioned transformation.

However, as historical epics go, Warlords must rank as one of the better examples of the genre, especially when an Eastern flavour is desired - Peter Chan bringing an earthy restraint where Zhang Yimou usually goes overboard on the spectacle. The DVD comes with the usual assortment of extras and making-ofs, for those thoroughly enthused, yet the Blu-ray does seem better stocked in this regard.
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Warlords [Blu-ray] [2008] [Region Free]
Warlords [Blu-ray] [2008] [Region Free] by Peter Ho-Sun Chan (Blu-ray - 2009)
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