“Dynasty Warriors” brings warlords, fighters and statesmen together to wage a battle for supremacy in this epic, martial-arts fantasy action blockbuster based on the hit video games and the “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”. Starring Louis Koo, Carina Lau, Wang Kai, Tony Yang, Han Geng and Lam Suet, directed by Roy Chow. Available now on Netflix!
Award-winning actor Louis Koo stars as the historical warlord and general, “Lu Bu”. Koo has forged an impressive career in an eclectic collection of roles ranging from Johnny To’s “Election” and “Drug War”, through to thrillers such as “Connected”, “Overheard” and “The White Storm”, the “All’s Well That Ends Well” comedy series, and the martial arts films “Call of Heroes”, “Flash Point”, “Rob-B-Hood”, “SPL 2: A Time for Consequences“, with a stand out performance in the third SPL movie, “Paradox”.
Chinese singer and actor Wang Kai stars as the Chinese warlord, statesman and poet “Cao Cao”. A prolific career on television led to roles in movies such as Jackie Chan’s “Railroad Tigers” and Ding Sheng’s “A Better Tomorrow 2018”.
Hong Kong actress Carina Lau guest stars as “Master of the Sword Forge Castle”. Lau has had a long and varied career starring in films such as “Armour of God“, “Days of Being Wild”, “Project A Part 2“, “She Shoots Straight“, and “Ashes of Time”, as well as playing the Empress in the “Detective Dee” series of films. She is married to “The Grandmaster” star Tony Leung Chiu-wai.
Taiwanese actor Tony Yang plays “Liu Bei”, a warlord from the Three Kingdoms. Chinese Mandopop singer and actor, Han Geng, plays the legendary and popular Chinese hero “Guan Yu”. With a breakthrough role in the popular Hong Kong crime series “OCTB”), Justin Cheung plays “Zhang Fei”.
Tianjin-born Hong Kong character actor Lam Suet star as the villainous “Dong Zhuo”. Suet has appeared in dozens of popular films, frequently working with the acclaimed director Johnnie To. Some of his better known titles include “The God of Cookery”, “One Night in Mongkok”, “Kung Fu Hustle”, “Election”, “Fatal Contact”, “Legendary Assassin”, “Invisible Target”, “Fatal Move”, “Shinjuku Incident”, “The Legend is Born – Ip Man”, “Drug War”, and “Iceman 1 & 2”, to name but a few.
Set during the turbulent late Eastern Han Dynasty, the ambitious and opportunistic Dong Zhuo routs the Yellow Turban Rebellion on the battlefield, and immediately seizes control of the Han Court.
In an attempt to overthrow the pretender to the crown, loyal Han statesman Cao Cao plots an assassination that fails, leaving him on the run with a hefty bounty on his head.
Meanwhile, having helped Dong Zhuo to victory on the battlefield, three noble and formidable fighters Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, feel betrayed by the power-hungry despot. Together, they decide to help Cao Cao overthrow the evil dictator and bring balance back to the Han Dynasty.
Opens Up with a Huge Battle of Thousands
After a brief explanation on the state of the end of the Han dynasty, the film opens with a huge battle featuring thousands of soldiers. Although there must have been hundreds of human extras, the vast numbers are obviously enhanced with CGI.
Blending Traditional Han Dynasty Weapons & Fantasy Action
The ensuing mass battling blends traditional Han dynasty weapons with fantasy action. The main characters, based on famous historical figures from the Three Kingdoms, are introduced very much in the style of a video game. Thankfully the individual fighting is well-choreographed and it doesn’t feel like the viewer is sitting watching someone play a game.
An exciting forest chase and fight on horseback certainly employs plenty of visual effects, but also features many impressive practical stunts.
A series of gladiatorial duels consist of some frantic weapons work, culminating in the legendary Guan Yu twirling his Guandao to fight a deadly opponent’s mammoth sword in an all-too-brief, but entertaining fight.
Wuxia-Style, Mountain-Top Sword Duel
Much closer in style to classic wuxia fantasy fighting is a mountain top sword duel. The combatants display some slick weapon skills whilst using wires to fly and spin around each other.
The epic final battle is created with thousands of human and CGI soldiers.
Fans of the Video Game Series will Revel…!
The fighting this time is much more representative of a video game, with lots of visual effects and fantastical, flying moves from the main heroes and villains. Fans of the original games will no doubt revel in what looks like the recreation of many special moves and attacks.
Video game to film adaptations have had a chequered history, with very few making a satisfactory leap to the big screen. I must be honest, I have never played the Dynasty Warriors series of games, although I am aware of its gameplay and popularity.
The film certainly has plenty of elements that look and sound like an accurate interpretation of the game. I am sure players of the original will enjoy spotting references to their gaming experiences.
In general, the acting from a respectable ensemble cast is good during the non-action scenes. The English dub is appalling though, sounding like bad cut scenes from a video game. Maybe that’s what the filmmakers were trying to achieve?
It really doesn’t compliment the on-screen performances and I would recommend choosing the Cantonese with subtitles option. The rock-guitar music score is also very reminiscent of late nineties Japanese video games, and I can only assume this is a deliberate reference to the source material.
Those who enjoy historical epics won’t find any accurate accounts here, and martial arts purists will probably roll their eyes at much of the fantasy action. Putting that to one side however, this has some exciting, if cartoonish (and occasionally quite violent) action scenes to enjoy.
I would love to hear in the review comments from fans of the game whether this is a faithful movie adaptation.
- “A swallow cannot fathom an eagle’s dream.” – Cao
- “Whenever I face a weaker opponent I usually let them win the first three rounds. The first three are over.” – Guan Yu
- Dynasty Warriors is based on the Koei Tecmo video game, which has had nine instalments from 1997 to 2018.
- Louis Koo suffered an eye injury on the set, causing him to have eight stitches.
- Justin Cheung gained fifteen pounds to play Zhang Fei.
- Director Roy Chow’s wife, Christine To Chi-Long, wrote the movie’s screenplay.
- Created by Omega Force and Koei, the Dynasty Warriors video game series has sold more than 21 million copies.