Warriors of Heaven and Earth

Warriors of Heaven and Earth

1.5 out of 51.5 out of 51.5 out of 51.5 out of 5 1.5

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This epic by Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker director He Ping follows a caravan mission through the Gobi Desert after a Tang Dynasty emperor dispatches a Japanese emissary to murder a revered Chinese lieutenant for not wanting to kill innocent Turks. The Chinese imperial agent, Sir Lai Xi (Jiang Wen), gangs up with his adversary, Lai Oi (Nakai Kichi), and together they help the rag-tag caravan negotiate both the slings and arrows of outrageous bandits and Mother Nature’s CGI wrath. This period fantasy suggests a hybrid of The Seventh Samurai and Braveheart, but it’s neither as richly characterized as Kurosawa’s über western or as blood-thirstingly bonkers as Gibson’s Medieval homoerotica. Despite the breathtaking locales, Warriors of Heaven and Earth is impossibly cheesy—backstory is explained via breathy voiceover, the tedious sword fighting is strictly of the ooga-booga variety, and the bad guys are readily identifiable by how slowly they twirl their moustaches and clap their hands. History in Zhang Yimou’s pre-Christian Hero is encoded in its giddy, color-coded showdowns. But the straightforward Warriors of Heaven and Earth is an all-around bore, failing both as history lesson and performance art. Though the film means to celebrate an era of Buddhist reinvigoration in Mother China, what is the film’s Buddhist idol but a lazy Macguffin used to excuse a last-act contrivance of soulless CGI brouhaha?

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DVD
Distributor
Sony Pictures Classics
Runtime
114 min
Rating
R
Year
2003
Director
He Ping
Screenwriter
He Ping
Cast
Jiang Wen, Nakai Kichi, Wang Xueqi, Zhao Vicki, Harrison Liu, Hasi Bagen, Wang, Deshun, Yang Haiquan, Mahepushen Yeerjiang, Zhao Wei, Zhou Yun