My Take – The trailers of this film were pretty simple, Nicolas Cage is in Medieval China, fighting some evil prince’s henchman along with Hayden Christensen. Yup! That sounds pretty horrible! & even with the huge set of bad reviews floating around the net, I decided to give this a shot & wollah! as I had expected this film was so bad it was actually fun to watch. It seems the director knew everything was wrong here & decided to parody every swords & sandal movie out there. This Canadian- Chinese – American production follows Jacob (Hayden Christensen) a former crusader warrior who ends up on a journey protecting the son and daughter of a deposed Chinese Emperor from their evil older brother. I was drawn to this film because of the crusader element and the beginning of the story is somewhat similar to the Season of the Witch. Crusader warriors finding their way in life after their crusade is over. Broken men who have seen things and done things that would haunt anyone for life. Killing in the name of God does not mean that the bloody memories are easily forgotten.
It resembles the plot of many westerns: The master warrior who tries to escape his previous cruel life, drinks to forget, he hits rock bottom, until someday unexpectedly he finds a noble cause to serve and redeem himself. But unfortunately there is zero character progression. There is no worthwhile story. Everything happens for no particular reason. Some single event that transpired in the middle east caused Hayden and Nick to travel to China. The film feels insanely rushed, yet at the same time you end up sitting there waiting for it to be over so its actually also painfully long. There have been times, many times that Hollywood has proved itself that making a Chinese movie is not one of their strong point. To begin with, the story has to be a believable one. The Templar war was during 12th to 13th century (if I am not mistaken). That was during the Mongol time and there was no power struggle in China because they simply have been annihilated by the Mongol power. Of course this kind of Rambo style movie is one of Hollywood’s specialty. One man against the whole battalion of army and still the one man army wins the battle. And of course the heroism of the western style. The story writer just didn’t have a clue of how the culture in China at that time. A prince and princess on the run will not sacrifice their well being to save a peasant whom they do not even know. It couldn’t get more painfully boring if they tried. There is nothing Chinese as such over this film too. Everybody speaks English. This is the worst accent I’ve ever heard Nic Cage make in my life and it pains me to say this cause’ I love the guy. He’s awesome but god damn it, this is dreadful! Well just in order to shift some blame, the star of the film is Hayden Christensen (not Cage), who does a good job overall. Cage has a minor role, merely a cameo, not as significant as you might think at first. To tell you the truth they could have assign his part to another actor or scrap the character off the story all together. Cage’s acting is sub-par but he gives a hilarious performance (yes, hilarious is the most insulting word I want to use).
Clearly made for a DVD release I doubt this one will ever even make it to TV, it’s that bad. Yes, the fight scenes are not badly done, camera angles and tight shots tend to spoil it, its not meant to be an art film. There are too many examples of hero versus 20 guys that wait their turn, surely this fell out of favor as a fight choreography 25 years ago. I kept asking myself through the film. Who is this made for? because it sure as hell isn’t the Nic Cage fan boys its not the guys loving action. its NOT a Chinese audience, its basically not any audience this film might could appeal to. So who then? Is it to advance the career of the actors? because this film will most certainly NOT accomplish that. Is it a directorial debut? Evidently yes Congratulations Nick Powell you messed yours up BADLY! Well, despite the bad reviews a SEQUEL is on the works. I don’t mind watching it when it’s out. Just to laugh as hard as I did while watching this one.
Director – Nick Powell
Rated – NR
Run Time – 99 minutes