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Ever Heard of a Movie Called Dragon Blade? 
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Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2015 7:53 am
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Location: Woodstock, IL
Here is the first part of a review/historical article of a Chinese movie called Dragon Blade by R. Graeme Cameron from The Pleasure of Ruins #3 at ... ins-03.pdf that I quite frankly had never heard of until yesterday when I finally got around to reading that fanzine:


The Chinese have made a movie about it so you know it must be true.

“Dragon Blade,” released in February 2015 in China but not in North America as yet, and costing the
equivalent of $65 million US dollars, is the most expensive film that nation has ever produced.

It has an international cast featuring Jackie Chan as a Han Dynasty Commander, Adrien Brody as Roman
General Tiberius whose mission is to seize the overland trade route to China, and John Cusack as some sort of
renegade Roman General who apparently sides with the Chinese, judging from the fact he and Jackie Chan’s
character become allies. I strongly suspect the Romans are portrayed as the bad guys (except for Cusack’s
character.) No doubt there’s a love triangle in there somewhere, though not between the three Generals I hasten
to add…

Anyway, the movie’s PR people have assured everyone the film is based on reports of an actual battle
between Roman Legionnaires and Han Dynasty soldiers.

After this, Cameron's piece goes into what is known about trade relations between the two empires and the like.

In any event, have any of you guys heard of this movie before?

More about it from IMDB:

Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:50 am
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Burning Godzilla
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Yeah. It's said to be one of Jackie's better films in recent years, surpassing the amazingly disappointing CZ12, Police Story 2013, and I assume it will have surpassed The Spy Next Door. The reviews I've read state that the main flaws stem from the unnecessary framing sequences set in the modern day, or something like that.

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Mon Dec 14, 2015 2:56 pm
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Burning Godzilla
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Nothing sourced, but if I recall correctly, there was some Roman like artifacts/finds on the outer fringes of China dated to around the Han dynasty. However, it was thought that these guys were Mercenaries who defected/captured by the Persians/Parhtians, and eventually found their way to the edge of the Persian/Parthian empire to settle/fight as a buffer. There may have even been soem vague written documents in the Han court.

However, it is all very sketchy and definitely on the "speculative" side of History. Again, sources on this are a bit disreputable and vague and I may even be completely remembering things.

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Tue Dec 15, 2015 11:42 pm
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So I just gone watching this movie. The story is about a squadron of Hun soldiers led by Huo An (Jackie Chan) who are framed some shady business involving tribute money and are exiled to a city on the outer fringes of the Silk Road. The city is populated by numerous Central Asian/barbarian tribes that inhabit the region. Tasked with the impossible task of rebuilding the city's wall in a short period of time, Huo An receives a visit from a legion of Roman soldiers led by Lucius (John Cusack), who are on their way to Parthia. Among the soldiers is a child, the brother of the ambitious Tiburius (Adrian Brody), who was supposed to assume some important post, but was marked for death by Tiburius instead. Lucius and Huo An strike up an uneasy alliance, with the Roman soldiers agreeing to help rebuild the wall with their Western technology in exchanged for safe passage to Parthia. The uneasy partnership blooms into full-blown friendship between the different races, which will be tested when Tiburius strikes up a deal with Huo An's superiors, which ends in tragedy, and armed conflict, for all sides.

These days I check my expectations for Jackie Chan films, knowing that a) he's in his 60s now and b) he's simply not too keen on reproducing the sort of films he made in the 80s and 90s, and is honesty trying to expand his acting range. This historical action-adventure flick finds a comfortable balance between the well-choreographed battle scenes and the drama, showing that Chan has envolved a lot since 2004's New Police Story. Unfortunately, John Cusack, who was cast because of the following he has in China, feels out of place in this movie. He's better at playing the sort of manic, comic characters that defined his career in the 90s. There's a turn of events in the last quarter of the movie that I still haven't decided if I like or not, but went against all of my expectations as to where the film was going to go.

There's actually quite a bit of action in the movie, all of which I enjoyed. It was better than the battle sequences we saw in other Jackie Chan period pieces like The Myth and Little Big Soldier. Jackie Chan gets more than his fair share of sword fights, which he still does well, despite his advanced age and history of injuries. He also does some fast, agile, and highly coordinated handwork in disarming and taking down multiple opponents. It's nothing flashy, but I'm always glad to see Chan showing us that he's still one of the greats at age 61. An early fight scene has him taking on a cute Barbarian princess whom he defeats without using weapons by removing her veil, unwittingly turning her into his wife. Another sequence midway through the movie has the Chinese/Hun soldiers testing their fighting styles against the Roman equivalent. So we get pole vs. double sticks and sword vs. Roman shield/sword. That made for a neat contrast of techniques from different ethnicities, much like how Jackie Chan had a swordfight with an Indian fighter in The Myth. I'm a sucker for that sort of thing.

The battle scenes are pretty good by genre standards. I like how one of the barbrian tribes takes on the Roman phalanx formations with what is essentially a glorified dirt clod war. No wire-fu or super-powered horses here. The battles are bloody, although no worse than what you'd get in things like Troy or Gladiator.

I think the conclusion of the movie, after all the dust has cleared, drags a little. That's really small potatoes. If you're in the mood for some historical action and want something a little different from whatever Ridley Scott has done in the past 15 years or so (plus those that other filmmakers tried to capitalize on), Dragon Blade makes a good alternative.

I wrote a book!

Sat Jan 21, 2017 2:37 pm
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