Genre: Martial Arts
Director: Daniel Lee
Cast: Donnie Yen, Zhao Wei, Qi Yuwu, Wu Chun,
Kate Tsui, Sammo Hung, Damian Lau, Chen Guan Tai, Wu Ma, Law
RunTime: 1 hr 55 mins
Released By: GV & Mediacorp Raintree Pictures
Rating: PG (Some Violence)
Official Website: http://www.14blades.com/en.htm
Opening Day: 4 February 2010
Trained in clandestine combat from childhood,
the Jinyiwei were masters of the 14 Blades. Above the law
and with a license to kill, they devoted their lives and lethal
prowess to the service of the Emperor alone.
When the Imperial Court is taken over by
evil eunuch JIA, the best of the Jinyiwei, QINGLONG is assigned
to steal a list identifying those still loyal to the Emperor.
Unbeknownst to Qinglong, the Jinyiwei have fallen under the
control of Jia, and during the mission he’s betrayed
and barely escapes with his life.
Now as the most wanted man in the land Qinglong
must seek out and rally the loyalists to rise against Jia
and restore the Emperor to power.
his way are the deadliest assassins in the land, his former
brethren, the Jinyiwei.
There's a running gag in Moviexclusive
that Director Daniel Lee isn't a very good story teller and
there's a foolish reviewer who once gave Daniel Lee's previous
film a 4 stars rating. While others don't share the same sentiments,
I thought that even thought Daniel Lee previous film suffered
from patchy story telling, he was effective in bringing out
certain emotional resonance. However in 14 Blades, it was
all about exotic locations, flashy costumes and characters
designs with fancy weaponry but none of the emotion impacts
that it was garnering for.
The bulk of 14 Blades took place in the desert
area where the exotic Indian culture seems to be a prominent
fixture. It provides a good excuse to dress good looking actors
and actresses like Wu Chun and Zhao Wei up with Indian theme
costumes. Those not in the modified Indian garb (Donnie Yen
and Qi Yiwu) get fitted in funky imperial guards uniform that
looks like an update from Three Kingdoms (Daniel Lee's previous
film). The cast all looked specially good through the lens
of 14 Blades' DOP. Donnie Yen and Wu Chun look great with
their well tone body (specially Donnie Yen with his tattoo
buff up chest ) and Vicky Zhao look so attractively luring
in this that it made my friend add another one more star to
his rating for this movie.
The 14 Blades weaponry comes in a box which
brought back memories of those days of collecting Manhua (chinese
comics) that comes wit their own various mini weapons collectible.
With many compartments and devices, the 14 Blades and the
various other fancy weaponry gadgets in this movie could easily
be marketed as toy.
But what about the story and the fighting
(since this is a movie starring Donnie Yen)?
This time round, Daniel Lee's uneven and
inept story telling skills had once again rear it's ugly head.
There were many moments that 14 Blades were trying to be engaging
and emotional but there's a hollow lifeless ring to it. Characters
were spouting emotional and gungho dialogues but it lacks
a strong build up or performance to engage the viewers tear
For example, Donnie Yen's Qinglong supposedly
had it rough during his childhood training as the elite secret
agents and the selection process had numb his humanity. Similar
to the Spartan kids training program in 300, it was done in
short flashback sequences but while one impress with it's
violent imagery, 14 Blades left ones with a sense of indifference.
The characters were badly constructed and superficially performed.
Another example would be Qi Yiwu's performance as a duplicitous
traitor of the Jinyiwei (the elite secret agents). It was
inefficient, unmemorable and it felt like an unnecessary add
on to the whole mix. A far cry compared to Jacky Cheung's
performance as the Eunuch's lackey in Swordsman.
The story telling was another mess. For most
part of the show, it wasn't clear what was Qinglong's mission
after he been betrayed and wounded. It took about 3/4 of the
movie before we were told of his grandplan to right the wrong
and saving the day. It also didn't help when the movie forcefully
insert emotional flashback moments into scenes which we could
swear that there weren't time for. It just felt inept and
Last but not least, the fight scenes. While
there are moments in which Kate Tsui floats around in spectacular
manner (aided by special effects) to illustrate her amazing
fast kungfu, Donnie Yen lacks a capable opponent to do a proper
choreographed fight scene with. As most of the actors in 14
Blades are without the kungfu background, the fight sequences
had to be aided by fast editing, stunt double, unnatural wire
works and special effects. It just felt like another tired
messy choreographed that populated most Asian Kungfu flicks.
14 Blades had a little something for the
masses. For fans of Wu Chun, Zhao Wei and Donnie Yen, they
can have their filled of eye candy. For comics and toy collect
or even those who are interested in weaponry, they might find
pleasure in checking out the various fancy weapons in 14 Blades.
But for those looking for a solid period martial arts film
that comes with a memorable storyline, 14 Blades would have
very little to offer.
(Attractive, exotic and fancy Blade but when it comes to story
and character buildup, it was a pretty blunt Blade)
Review by Richard Lim Jr