ancient China, many kingdoms battle for supremacy. Yen Feier
(Kelly Chan) is thrust onto the throne after her father died
in battle. Feier and General Muyong Xuehu (Donnie Yen) unite
to defend the kingdom. Her ambitious cousin, Wu Ba (Guo Xiao-dong)
tries to kill her, but a mysterious man Duan Lan-Quan (Leon
Lai) saves her. They fall in love, leaving Feier to choose between
her duty and her dreams...
Director Peter Chan once shared with us on one of
the heated conflicts he had while working with Ching Siu Tung
on the Warlords. Director Peter Chan wanted to place the emphasis
on the story telling aspect and his action coordinator, Ching
Siu Tung was more interested in making the action sequences
intriguing to see when Ching Siu Tung took up the directing
duties for Empress and the Warriors, how is he going to balance
story telling and action sequences.
start with the positive aspects of Empress and the Warriors.
costume design for the warriors looked outstandingly good.
It stood out so well that films like "Curse of the Golden
Flowers" and even recent "Romance of the Three Kingdom:
Resurrection of the Dragon" pale in comparison. This
is how period military costume should look like, exquisitely
crafted with grayish shades and not some weird hybrid or brightly
framing for the cinematography here for certain scenes look
quite impressive and especially when it’s featuring
on the warriors’ amour.
about all that stood out for Empress and the Warriors.
known as an action choreographer nowadays, it’s indeed
strange that the action sequences here turned out to be insipid
and unmemorable, a mile tamer than what was done for The Warlords.
Even the climatic fight finale felt tame, absurd, plot holes
galore (why didn’t anyone just fire arrows at Donnie
Yen’s character (General Muyong)? Isn’t it faster
that way?) and a unfeasible finale at such awkward angle (check
out the final fight and see if you agree with me).
story telling aspect was so choppily hurried and unintentionally
laughable that it make one wonder if this is coming from the
same guy who directed the classic A Chinese Ghost Story. It
felt that it was fast forwarding all the way till Kelly Chen
(Yan Feier) met Leon Lai (Duan Lan Quan) and it slowed down
for the romance to bubble before fast forwarding to the finale
big fight sequences. Things that are meant to arouse emotions
turned out to be a joke as one scene we had General Muyong
telling Yan Feier that her dad is an invincible warrior and
the following scene, her “invincible” dad suffer
a fatal shot by an arrow (they left the more spectacular death
for someone else).
it came to the selection as the lead for the Mei Ren (the
beauty). It’s subjective to personal preference and
in my humble opinion, Kelly Chen lacks that extra oomph to
portray as a beauty. Yes she is pretty but beautiful? Not
in my book.
questionable issue for this film was her acting ability to
portray the “Mulan” type of toughness. Kelly Chen’s
emotional outbursts among her fellow soldiers really feel
like a primary school monitress scolding her fellow classmates
Empress and the Warriors will probably join the huge inventory
of forgettable Hong Kong lousy movies that suffered from poor
scripts and casting choice. It’s so bad that it’s
unintentional funny that’s on par with another recent
period film, The Promise. For the director, films like this
will only cement people’s impression that he should
stay behind the camera instead of directing.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
A couple of things to note about this edition of An Empress
and the Warriors; first it was without English subtitles.
It makes one wonder if the US market is making the Asian bend
over for them again.
It’s been a long time since it appears on our local
dvds and it might be making a comeback with An Empress and
the Warriors. Viewers will get to see the Scorpio East logo
appearing intermittently during the show. On the TV, it will
appear just above the picture but played on computer, it will
appear on the top right hand of the film. Never a popular
feature, I am not sure why is it included for this film and
wonder if it’s going to be a permanent feature for Scorpio
East dvds from now on.
by Richard Lim Jr