Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Battle of the Warriors (2006)

Battle of the WarriorsI started watching this one expecting a historical military drama. 'Battle of the Warriors' delivered that beautifully. It centers on the mysterious stranger who arrives just as the city is about to be over-run, and rallies a defense against a marauding army tens of times their size a trope that works as well in classical China as in the American Wild West. Starting there, it offers exciting battles, humble heroism, intrigue, and all the rest that makes for quality entertainment of this kind. All of that comes through in sets and costuming with historical credibility, even though I can't vouch for literal accuracy. This isn't in the "flying swordsmen" genre, but a brilliant one of its kind.

This movie's pleasant surprise comes its major premise, an actual bit of Chinese history that many Westerners might not know. The mysterious stranger is a Mozi a follower of Mo Di, an actual philosopher and leader from the Warring States period. His school centered their beliefs on universal brotherly love, something subversive in a Confucian society with rigid hierarchies of loyalty and affiliation. Rather than simply preach this doctrine, Moists fought for it. Their armies defended weaker city-states against unjust invasions by others in a policy of militant pacifism that might be unique in history. I know of no other movie that mentions Mo at all, so this one performs the worthwhile service of bringing this sage to Western attention.

If you want costume drama with plains darkened by swarming armies, with dramatic sieges and flaming attacks, with effete rulers undermining the commanders in the trenches, and with a near-subliminal hint of romantic interest, give this one a shot. But, while you're at it, remember that Mo was real even if this story's events weren't, and is well worth knowing.


I like some of the more recent warfare/martial arts foreign movies as much for the cinematography as I do for a good storyline. After all, it's nice to experience the imagery and action of a beautiful film to go along with processing the information of the story from the English subtitles. (Note: As a rule, I don't watch foreign movies with the English overdub turned on. I prefer to read the subtitles.) Movies that come to mind are Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon, House of Flying Daggers, Hero and The Warrior. This movie, Battle of the Warriors looked really good from the stills that I had seen and the story concept of countering a siege with wits and savvy appealed to me. In it's basic essence, thats what this movie is about, a kind of thinking-man's warfare from the point of view of both the beseiged and the invaders. Additionally, there are a few subplots involving 1) choosing to love, 2) the high human cost of war and 3) the ignorance/arrogance of the ruling class.

And at the end of the movie, I was very pleased with the story, probably even more than the cinematography. Don't expect non-stop action as there are several interludes that deal with setting up the armies/defenses and the strategies involved. Also, this movie isn't over-the-top in it's brutality, despite the eventual battle scenes. Overall, my opinion is that this is pretty solid movie and I would recommend it to intelligent audiences.

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If you're into Oriental art flicks, I would recommend a DVD called "Battle of the Warriers"

"Battle" certainly ranks, in my opinion, right up there with "Ran" or any of Kurosawa's or Ichikawa's films. Although lacking Kurosawa's camera work, I would have mistaken it for his if it had been in black & white. It's made in Hong Kong but much more western in style (more Japanese??) than most of the stuff coming out of Hong Kong or Beijing.

The movie is in Chinese but subtitled in English.

The story takes place in China 2300 years ago & is about a city that is the way of a large advancing army. The Army must take the city in order to proceed. The city hasn't much in defense & asks a clan of defense specialists, the Mozi, for help. They send one little guy. This guy, Ge Li, puts a whole new spin on being an army of one. Not because he's a killer but because he's a professional, knows what he's doing, & understands all of the consequences. If we had this guy in Afganistan, the war would have been over long ago.

The story is taken from a video game. Probably the only good conversion of a video game to full blown movie I've ever seen. The first half is battle and the preparations for them. The 2nd half has as much action but gets pretty heavy into the philosophy of war as well. One of those "Gotcha" movies that makes ya stop & think later about what was said.

This movie is excellent at all levels and would be enjoyable for just about every one although the violence might be a bit much for the younger kids. But not overboard with the blood & guts as so many movies are these days.

I recommend this movie enough I'm gonna buy a copy & add it to my collect. Well worth a watch.

Read Best Reviews of Battle of the Warriors (2006) Here

A martial arts movie that is more battle epic than hand-to-hand combat, Battle of the Warriors takes place in China almost 2500 years ago. My Chinese history is a bit er dusty, but the movie does a great job of laying out the background. This is a wartorn time, and the city of Liang is about to be besieged by an army that has to steamroll through it to get to their real military target. Raw deal.

Enter Ge Li (the amazing Andy Lau), a Mozi that the slimy king of Liang has begged to come protect the city. How can one man defend a city against an army? With brains, strategy, and cunning psychology. While there are plenty of battles in this movie, the real core of Battle of the Warriors is the planning the game of chess that takes place between the invaders and Li as each side plots their next move or parries that of the opponent. I've never seen a war movie that is so much about the tactical planning of war, and it was fascinating. Of course this focus means the movie is a little slow at times, but I was never not interested. The battle scenes are really creative and the tactics devised by each side to attain their objectives are amazing. I even recognized tenets I remember reading in The Art of War surface in Ge Li and his adversaries' thinking, which was awesome!

In addition to masterful battle scenes, Battle of the Warriors also has tremendous cinematography, wonderful acting, and great costumes and sets. There's even a tragic love story thrown in. As affecting as the love story was, I'm glad they kept it at the subplot level. I generally find it a weakness when a martial arts film lets a love story get too front and center; this one is kept on the backburner where it belongs and it adds spice rather than getting in the way of what the movie is really about.

The main theme of the film is how war only creates more and deeper conflict, a sentiment Andy Lau's Li actually verbalizes in one of the final scenes. This theme is illustrated very effectively in the way different characters become mistrustful, turn on one another, and backstab or even destroy each other (sometimes unintentionally) as a result of the conflict they are trying to win. This theme is also given life by the fact that Ge Li is a Mohist/Mozi. Of course, this piece of the story will be a bit unclear for some viewers. For example, about half way through the movie a character accuses Ge Li of always talking about 'universal love'. Huh? The guy never said a word about it up to that point! As far as I recall, anyway.

This piece of the movie relies on a bit of historical backstory that is probably obvious to Chinese audiences. I had to look it up. The Mohists apparently were militant pacifists during this wartorn time. They were master strategists who defended people from large armies as a means of thwarting military ambitions, and there's some religious/philosophical underpinnings to their beliefs that are generally distasteful to anyone in a position of power. As such, to defend the city Li does not launch attacks. His work is all defensive, yet very much aimed at prevailing. In this case, the goal is outlasting an army that can't afford the effort and losses of a long siege. Li's defenses are cunning, powerful, and deadly enough to daunt even a battle-hardened army. In short, he's not the kind of pacifist who gets his way by sticking flowers in the barrels of guns. He's someone you do NOT want to be stuck attacking!

I enjoyed Battle of the Warriors, and I'd recommend it to martial arts buffs who are okay with no hand-to-hand combat epic flicks and will have some patience for the few times the plot demands it. And thanks to Dragon Dynasty for bringing another great martial arts movie to US audiences!

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I have always been a fan of the epic battle movies from medieval times to the classic Asian battles like the one in this film. This film now called "Battle of Warriors" is one really good movie, it has all any one could want in a film. The epic battles and fights, romance, political thriller, and strong characters are all wrapped into one. The movie originally titled "Battle of Wits" is based on a novel of the same name, and a Manga series, which had been based on the novel. Starring the ever great Andy Lau and directed by Jacob Cheung this equals out to be one good flick.

In 370 B.C. China was in turmoil being split into seven nations and such, also known as China's Warring States Period. One of the smaller states is being attacked and that is Liang, The nation of Zhao is trying to invade them with an overwhelming amount of solider, classic outnumbered Alamo like story. Faced with this impossible task Liang decides to send for the help of a Mozi or Mohist [look em up]. Known for their defensive and tactical skills one man is sent and his name was Ge Li [Lau], at first the King of Liang is upset that only one man was sent but soon he realizes that this one man is more than worthy of the job.

Has the battle draws closer Ge Li not only is given full control of the military but he starts to win over the people. Of course in doing this he is only doing his job but the King starts to think otherwise. Someone gets in his ear and lets the King know that the people are putting all their faith into Ge Li, taking influence away from the King. What is a King to do when he is falsely lead to think one thing over the other, take action of course.

Andy Lau leads an excellent cast in this wonderful film with a great performance, not only does he make the man more than likable but he also makes you believe that this character can win a war. Fan Bingbing plays his romantic interest in the film and does a great job as well. Siu Ho Chin is great here as well as a general that takes Li's side over the King, the King of course is played wonderfully by Zhiwen Wang. Si Won Choi [also a Korean pop star] plays the King's son in this film and does a great job. Of course from the other side is the invading Zhao commander Xiang Yan-zhong played perfectly by Sung-kee Ahn. I love the chess match here in this film between his and Lau's characters, the meeting was a favorite moment of mine.

Director Jacob Cheung and DP Yoshitaka Sakamoto did a great job with this film as the camera keeps moving and the shots are excellent. The story is great and full of actual characters and the battles are fun as one would expect. As I am sure you can tell that I enjoyed this film, I always have. I always loved the film and then Dragon Dynasty released here in the states in a special edition, I love it even more. The making of feature is excellent and shows a lot of behind the scenes and as always the commentary from Bey Logan is really insightful.

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