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4.3 out of 5 stars35
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 8 December 2011
Donnie Yen is the man these days with every director and producer clammering for the Yenster. The latest product of director Felix Chong and Alan Mak (director/writers of infernal Affairs Trilogy) is The Lost Bladesman. The story of the Three Kingdom and the unification of China under the rule of Cao Cao. The problem occurs from the very start of the film with little or no explanation about the current scenario, those unitiated with the Three Kingdom lore will be left in the dark. Intial skeptism about Yen playing the legendary Guan Yu can be put to rest. Though Yen being a little short compared to the mythcal legacy of Guan Yu, Yen embodies both charisma and composure. His acting is subtle and reserved compared to his more showy efforts of Flash point and Dragon Tiger Gate. But it is Jian Wen that gives a fantastic performance as the great Cao Cao, he conveys loyalty and intelligence with hints of deception with ease. His admiration for Guan Yu is more fleshed out compared the character of Guan Yu portrayed in this film.

Those watching a Donnie Yen film will expect top quality action. Depending on your expectations you may be a bit disappointed with this feature. In terms of quality Yen delivers some fantastic weapon work with some nice choreography but they lack the usual intensity usually associate with Donnie. The first major action between Andy On and Donnie Yen is nicely staged but lacks any real power. The next major action scene features Yen taking on various opponents but unfortunately a lot of the fight is clouded in dakrness making it hard sometimes to see the fluid action. Those sitting through the film expecting a final pay off will also be likely let down, for it is very anti climatic. There is action but very brief and with no real strong adversary to take on it only can be viewed as a disappointment.

Felix Chong and Alan Mak are competent writers and directors, evident in there past work but sadly they fall behind in this feature. Guan Yu is very under developed and lacks any real characterisation beyond "I am righteous and loyal". During the quieter moments I was a bit bored and that was due to not really caring for the relationship between Betty Sun Li and Donnie Yen. Chong and Mak make up the film with some fantastic cinematography and camera work especially during the action scenes.

A very ambitious film that entertains on a supperficial level but those hoping for more attachment to characters and more understanding of the Three Kingdoms story will be left a bit cold.

(I know very little about the Three Kingdoms story only what I have witnessed in the film Red Cliff and the other features about the legendary Guan Yu)
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on 12 October 2011
While those looking for wall to wall martial action would be better to look elsewhere, this film is best viewed by those familiar with the legends, heroes, and characters stemming from the Three Kingdoms novels and TV series and films like Red Cliff and Resurrection of the Dragon. The plot features appearances from several characters from those stories that would be familiar to readers (similar to say the Avengers-related cameos in several of the recent Marvel heroes films) and there are several enjoyable scenes that delve into explaining details of Yen's character's legend. Similar to many of the recent films and series revolving around the King Arthur/Round Table legends.

For those unfamiliar with the Three Kingdoms characters and stories, I can understand that there would be some confusion with the characters and their relationships with each other. This lack of a more in depth familiarity may diminish some enjoyment as Yen's terrific martial action scenes are sparsely distributed throughout the film. And while it's possible for an uninformed viewer to enjoy the film on it's historical action merits, they may not enjoy this work as much as the more relatable fare found in some of Yen's other recent films. It might be better to think of this film as a historical piece featuring some martial arts action than a martial arts film that takes place in ancient China, if that makes any sense.
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on 27 December 2014
If you prefer your movies to have a story (I usually do), then you may want to give this one a miss. Maybe if you speak Chinese the story has more impact (sadly I don't speak Chinese). I think Donnie Yen is brilliant so I bought it because he was in it. The movie is apparently about a man/general/fighter who in the time of warring Kingdoms is very loyal to his own leader, but he's so good others either want to try to win his loyalty or kill him to stop him from helping their enemies. Most of the movie is the Bladesman trying to deliver this woman (whom he loves but who is promised to another man) from point A to B and he ends up having to kill lots of baddies in self-defence along the way. The fight scenes were amazing, the acting was good, the cinematography and costumes were lovely...but it just didn't have much of a story-spine. I don't know if I'll watch it again.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 20 December 2011
Warning this film does contain some `fighting'. This is a full on version of the legend that is Guan Yu (Donnie Yen), he was famous in Ancient China for his prowess in the civil war and the eventual ousting of the Han Dynasty. It does help if you know a bit about the actual history as there was a lot of information crammed into the 109 minutes of film. It starts with a brilliant set piece battle and then gets into the political machinations that become the scene setter for the rest of the film.

There is also a love interest where Guan Yu falls for the concubine of his blood brother, and she gets into scrapes with a rapidity that even Scooby Doo would baulk at. But he is always there to rescue her. There are some who have said this is not a martial arts film, but for me it was more or less constant and to be honest a bit boring in its' repetitiveness. Whilst it is beautifully shot and the soundtrack is both emotive and impressive, the plot comes across as contrived. There are crosses and double crosses and people change sides almost randomly.

The real strength, or weakness depending on your point of view , are the action sequences. They are many and frequent. They normally involve Guan Yu fighting an army single handed whilst flying about the place to a dubbed on `fight soundtrack'. There is some wire work too, but I always find that mildly comic or annoying - people only fly in aeroplanes or by accidents. The sub titles are also an issue, they are in white and are quite often obscured by the back ground which means you can miss some plot development.

There are also just so many plot holes, I especially like the way Guan masters the art of semi-automatic crossbow firing in a nano second. Everything seems to be a prelude for more fighting and it is the sort where inevitably one person at a time comes forward to do battle, and no-one stabs anyone in the back. I started popping out to put the kettle on when these started, as I always hate it when you know what the outcome would be. There was no attempt at subtlety except in the rather good performance of Wen Jiang who played the Machiavellian Cao Cao who managed to be both hero and villain often in the same scene.

If you like a martial arts flick then you could do a lot worse, it has clearly had a lot of money spent on it and has many qualities and I was not bored, but the points I mention above meant that for me it was really only ok, hence the rating.
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on 28 May 2013
Some say this is one of Donnies most mediocre movies, but I disagree. I throughly enjoyed the movie throughout. The action sequences, although a little sparce for an action movie, were still very entertaining. If you enjoyed movies like The Three Kingdoms and Red Cliff (the full extended version not the seriously cut 2hr 30 odd minute version), then you'll love this excellent Donnie contribution.

I picked this up for less than £3 so couldn't complain even if it had been mediocre. I'm intending getting the Blu-Ray version just as soon as I've purchased several other titles first. :)
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on 5 January 2014
Great flick.
Martial arts and action sequences are impeccable. This movie looks fantastic camera work and cinematography are all beautiful.
A brilliant, impressive enjoyable piece of Chinese cinema.
Would thoroughly recommend to Martials fans and movie fans a like.
Donnie Yen is on top form in the movie and if you are a fan of Yen then you will really enjoy this!
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on 14 May 2014
If like me you enjoy non-English language movies, you’ve probably developed a kind of ‘speed reading’ of the subtitles. Unfortunately, with this DVD, it will not work. The subtitles are smaller than the norm, and often are hidden by similar coloured background. The action, however is the usual excellent quality with Donnie Yen, and who reads subtitles during fight scenes?
However, to understand the story behind the fights, you have to understand what’s being said..and it’s here the subtitles fall heavily down. But, if you’re a Donnie Yen, and/or you enjoy fight scenes – then this movie has it all.
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I was expecting more from this film it was at times very slow which was very disappointed it could have been so much better you can't blame the actor donnie yen tge blame must go to either the director or the fact that they have made so many films lately around the same subject. Don't get me wrong the scenery as usuall was amazing the acting really good the battle scenes good but it just had that feeling very slow sluggish it would have been better of being around 90 mins long a faster pace.
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on 10 April 2015
Gentler martial arts movie - cast is brilliant but the story isn't what it could be. Having seen 'Romance of the 3 Kingdoms' TV series 1994 I kinda expected it, given the limited timescale of a feature film.

Would recommend to see also the film documentary which comes with the DVD.
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on 17 June 2012
More than happy to add this to my huge collection of asian martial arts classics. this is a high budget and highly explosive movie that has everything.
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