Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 2nd, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: China / Hong Kong, 2011
Directors: Felix Chong, Alan Mak
Writers: Felix Chong, Alan Mak
Cast: Donnie Yen, Yu Ai Lei, Hong Chen, Siu-hou Chin, Yong Dong, Alex Fong, Zi Hei, Wen Jiang, Zonghan Li, Yuan Nie, Andy On, Bing Shao, Betty Sun, Bo-Chieh Wang, Xuebing Wang, Ke Zhao
DVD released: August 8th, 2011
Approximate running time: 105 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 12 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Mandarin, Dolby Digital Stereo Mandarin
Subtitles: English (Burnt-in)
DVD Release: Icon Home Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £15.99
This film is loosely adapted from the 14th century Chinese historical novel titled ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’, that was written by Luo Guanzhong during the Ming dynasty. Several other film have also based on this same novel. A few of the more notable of these adaptations include John Woo’s Red Cliff and Daniel Lee’s Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon.
The Lost Bladesman was co-written and co-directed by Felix Chong and Alan Mak, who most known for co-writing the screenplays for the Infernal Affairs trilogy. A series which Alan Mack also served as co-director of with Andrew Lau (The Storm Riders, Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen).
Of late in Chinese cinema there have been an abundance of historical based epics. Many of which have been casting Donnie Yen, the IP Man films and 14 Blades, just to name a few. And while it is to be expected that no film ever that has being based on a said sourced, even revered sources like Chinese folklore, that is not always going to be a faithful adaptation to its source material, with changes being made to suit certain sensibility of the cinematic form. These changes should never be so intrusive that they take too much away from the original source material.
Case in point The Lost Bladesman, a film that often heaps on style, while it often glosses over any attempt at creating anything of substance. Sure the narrative, which alternates between present day and events from the past, it is done effectively enough that the story is easy enough to follow. Without a doubt the most impressive aspect of this production are its action sequences, which were choreographed by its star Donnie Yen.
Perhaps this productions most problematic area are the performances from its cast, which are best described as a erratic, especially the performance from its leading man Donnie Yen in the role of Guan Yu. When his character is involved in more psychical activity his performance often excels, while during the more dramatic moments he often lacks the gravitas that is needed to convincingly pull a character like Guan Yu. While many of the supporting roles who often rise to the occasion, with this film’s standout performance coming from Wen Jiang (Let the Bullets Fly) in the role of a cunning general named Cao Cao.
Note: This review is based on a screener and may not be representative of the final product.
Icon Home Entertainment presents The Lost Bladesman in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original ‘scope’ aspect ratio. Though colors fare well, the flesh tones are generally inconsistent as they at times have a odd orange tone to them. Black levels do not fare much better and during darker scenes details often look murky. There are no problems with compression and edge enhancement varies in degree throughout.
This release comes with two audio options, a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in Mandarin and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Mandarin and burnt in English subtitles have been included with this release. The audio sounds clear and balanced throughout. And while not as dynamic as one would hope for a action heavy film, this audio mix does do a good job with the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (1 minute 25 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and a ‘Making of’ segment (16 minutes 9 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Chinese with English subtitles). In between behind the scenes footage there are comments from the cast and crew about their roles in this production. In all the topics covered are standard for this type of extra, so don’t into it expecting it to an all encompassing look into the making of this production. Overall The Lost Bladesman gets a serviceable audio / video presentation from Icon Home Entertainment.
Note: Icon Home Entertainment is also releasing The Lost Bladesman on BluRay.