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  Publicity Stills of "An Empress And The Warriors"
(Courtesy from GV)

In Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles
Director: Tony Ching Siu-Tung
Cast: Donnie Yen, Leon Lai, Kelly Cheng, Guo Xiao-Dong, Kou Zhen-Hai
RunTime: 1 hr 39 mins
Released By: GV/Dream Movie Entertainment/MediaCorp Raintree Pictures
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.anempressandthewarriors.com/

Opening Day: 27 March 2008


The movie is set in ancient China when countless kingdoms battle for supremacy. A Princess, together with her loyal Warrior, is thrust to defend the country when their King is killed in a battle. When her evil cousin tried to kill her in order to take over the kingdom, she was saved by a mysterious man in the woods. The Princess falls in love with her saviour who gave her a new life. With the fate of her kingdom in the balance, she must choose between her duty and her dreams…

Movie Review:

Deep down, I wanted so much to embrace and love “An Empress and the Warriors”. Simply because of two reasons, one it’s helmed by renowned action-choreographer Tony Ching Siu-Tung and the second, it starred Donnie “SPL” Yen.

But sad to say even the striking armour wore by the cast (as seen on the poster) won’t be able to absorb the impact caused by the critic’s slew of poisonous pens.

Pop star Kelly Cheng plays the title role, a Princess named Yen Feier whose father (the King) is murdered by an ambitious general, Wu Ba (Guo Xiao-Dong). Aided by the loyal Muyong Xuehu (Donnie Yen), the Princess must unite his father’s army to defend her kingdom. The plot itself is a no-brainer and as the story progress, you got the feeling that the supposedly ‘war’ is a poor excuse to inject some excitement for the usual, run-out-of-mill love triangle story plot.

The short running time not withstanding, the character developments of the various leads is a laughable fest. In a matter of minutes, the audience is led to believe Muyong is able to impart several battle skills to the Princess and in a split second, our dear Princess has fallen in love with a mysterious man (Leon Lai) who saved her from a group of assassins. And to take things even further, the couple even went on a joy ride in a hot-air balloon. (Just don’t ask me who invented the balloon)

So if you are coming in to watch some good-old kick-ass action, there are a few adrenalin sequences here and there, nothing really impressive this time unlike the bamboo fight in “House of Flying Daggers”. But still, there are a couple of nicely shots of horse carriages being flipped and smashed (the last I came across something similar was Ridley Scott’s Gladiator) to feed the action fanatics liked myself. The battle sequences were excellently choreographed, on a scale where only Tony Ching could pull off. The only setback could be he just did Peter Chan’s The Warlords shortly before and thus an obvious disadvantage to his credit.

Our man, Donnie Yen has lesser kicks and muscles to show off this time. Yen’s fans might have to be a tad patient for this off-putting aspect. Maybe the biggest flaw is having Kelly Cheng to play the Princess. As hard as she tries, she just seems too contemporary to be seen in a period piece. She might be better off in the latest edition of “Vogue”. Yen and Lai reunite after their stint together in Tsui Hark's Seven Swords but their performance is limited due to their short screentime.

The production designs on the other hand are impressive to the core all thanks to the magical touches of Oscar winner Yee Chung-Man. The sets are imaginative and remarkably furnished, take for example, the treehouse where the character Duan Lan-Quan (Leon) lived, an achievement that will definitely make the Ewoks in “Return of the Jedi” proud.

Technically, “An Empress and the Warriors” impresses and scored. But the cheesy and clunky script could have been better polished. Now this is where the huge disappointment comes in.

Movie Rating:

(Tony Ching pull off the technical aspects but forgot all about the script and cast)

Review by Linus Tee


. The Warlords (2007)

. The Curse of the Golden Flowers (2006)

. A Battle of Wits (2006)

. Seven Swords (2005)

. House of Flying Daggers (2004)

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