When the women of the Yang Clan lose their men in battle, they take up arms to protect the Song Dynasty from the Western Xia’s forces. The Yang Clan are fierce fighters, highly skilled in martial arts, but will they be able to lead a small force of 10,000 against an army of 100,000 and have any hope of victory? There would be no question of victory if a corrupt general would send his 100,000 soldiers to help them, but when he fails to do so, the Yangs have to take matters into their own hands.
This film is produced by the legendary Jackie Chan, and is just absolutely beautiful visually, the only exception being a few bits of CGI that just looked ok. This film really stood out in three key areas though. The costume design was stunning. The armor many of the Yang women wore was both beautiful and very detailed, especially the helmets. I was really amazed at how beautiful their armor was. Not just the armor, but the weapons as well. There was a large variety of weapons on hand, including bows, regular crossbows, arrow guns, spears, swords, polearms, ornate staves and more.
The second area the film stood out in was in the acting. The entire cast did a spectacular job in bringing their characters to life. There’s also a problem with the characters, but I’ll get to that in a minute. One character in particular really stood out to me, and for a very particular reason. That was Mu Guiying, played by the very pretty Cecilia Cheung. I wasn’t sure at first, so I had to look it up to make sure it was actually her. I recognized her from some Stephen Chow movies she’d been in, including a very small part in Shaolin Soccer. She’s had a very full career in a large number of great films going all the way back to Stephen Chow’s King of Comedy back in 1999, which was her first film.
The third area in which the film really excelled was in the fighting. The martial arts choreography was just stunning, and very smoothly executed. I’m not a particular fan of wire work in martial arts, and there was some of that going on, but the actual fighting was excellent, and exactly the quality you’d expect to see in a Jackie Chan production. It’s not only impressive, but exciting as well, and the scale of some of the battles are just absolutely enormous, while others are smaller and more focused on specific characters.
The characters are one area where I had a really difficult time with this film however. As good as they were, I gave up on trying to remember who was who. There were just too many of them, and there were mothers and grandmothers who all looked about the same age (late 30’s to earlier 40’s), so it got really confusing. Combine that with the fact that westerners aren’t familiar with Chinese names, and it makes it even more difficult to keep the names of the characters straight. There were some main characters that were easier to remember, as more focus was placed on them, but in general, the average viewer will likely have a problem keeping them all straight.
In the end though, this is a great film with really high production values and a lot of heart, and I can recommend it without hesitation. Jackie Chan isn’t really starring in action films himself anymore. I mean, let’s face it, after all these years of abusing his body for our entertainment, he’s certainly entitled to take it easy now, but he’ll always be in our hearts. I’m really happy to see him producing films of this quality, and passing down what’s made his films so incredible over the years.
There’s not much in the line of extras on this new release from Well Go USA, but it does contain a behind the scenes featurette and the film’s trailer. Also, as Jackie Chan has been fond of doing for years, there are also bloopers and behind the scenes footage that appear during the end credits.
If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out its page on the Well Go USA website here, and if you’d like to pick up a copy for yourself, you can get the blu-ray or DVD from Amazon, or from any of the other usual outlets.