DIRECTED BY PETER HO-SUN CHAN
CHINA/HONG KONG, 2008
IN MANDARIN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES
Hong Kong director Peter Chan (He’s a Woman, She’s a Man) tries his hand at a period action piece and doesn’t disappoint. Uniting three of Asia’s superstars (Jet Li, Andy Lau, and Takeshi Kaneshiro), the cast captures the camaraderie of the friends as well as their shifting loyalties. The film began as a remake of Chang Cheh’s 1973 Shaw Brothers’ classic_ Blood Brothers_, but became something more. Set during the bloody Chinese civil war, it is inspired by the 1870 assassination of General Ma Xinyi by his friend. In Chan’s hands, it satisfies as an epic political history (with the names being changed), but also becomes a vivid personalized story of betrayal between three sworn brothers and an admonition that an insatiable thirst for power corrupts. The stunning panoramic battle sequences, with their de-saturated colors and carnage, are reminiscent of World War I and II dramas. You feel every loss and hard-earned victory. This soaring, action-packed, uncompromising drama reminds us war is hell, a lesson too many too often forget.