Director | Daniel Lee
Producer | Jackie Chan, Susanna Tang
Writer | Daniel Lee
Cast | Jackie Chan, John Cusack, Adrien Brody, Lin Peng, Mike Wang, Choi Siwon, Xiao Yang, Wang Taili, Sammy Hung, Yoo Seung-jun, Lorie Pester
Run Time | 103 mins
Certificate | 15
Plot | Huo Lan (Chan) is the leader of The Silk Road Protection Squad. When his team are framed for theft, they are reassigned to Wild Geese Gate for manual labour. There, they encounter a rogue Roman legion led by Lucius (Cusack). Lucius is on the run from the corrupt consul Tiberius (Brody).
Review | If you ever wanted to see Jackie Chan sword fight with both John Cusack and, later, Adrien Brody then Dragon Blade might be the film for you!
Actually, it probably won’t be. Despite looking quite pretty, and the one-on-one/one-on-group fight scenes being well choreographed, this is a turgid mess of a sword-and-sandal epic. There’s so much wrong with it, the real question is which is the truer challenge – working out where to start listing its litany of issues, or sitting through the entire film?
Dragon Blade can’t decide if it wants to be a serious epic drama, a light buddy action flick, or a slapstick comedy. The soundtrack doesn’t help either – there are two or three scenes that actually exhibit dramatic promise, but they are ruined by a combination of sub-par acting, shoddy direction and an appalling score choice. Too often the musical accompaniment is too light and jovial, rendering almost every supposedly dramatic scene looking cheesier than an ‘inspiring’ Disney Channel produced straight-to-TV fondu fest.
Then there’s the eagles. In the big climactic clash of many armies, we’re to believe that one of the nations has an army of eagles, trained to attack the eyes of a charging vanguard. It all makes you wonder if the writers thought they were scribing a spoof.
There’s also a ridiculous overuse of slow-motion. Seriously, I think every fight scene uses it at least three times.
To be honest, there’s little point delving into everything that is wrong with it. Dragon Blade is a mess. What makes this more disappointing is that, unlike the other big names in this, Chan is actually not bad in it (Cusack phones it in and Brody hams it up as the big bad). Apparently, he is also the fight choreographer for the film, so, in a way, Chan is responsible for the very little good there is.
Verdict | If you can find a supercut of all the individual fight scenes, then give it a go. Otherwise, Jackie Chan is the lone bright light in the dull mess that is Dragon Blade.
Note: The 0.5 for Jackie Chan alone.