The directorial debut by Linshan Zhao stars Chow Yun Fat as Cao Cao he is the Prime Minister of the Han Dynasty around the year 198 BC. The film is basically a Chinese period piece that starts off around Cao Cao and his venturing east to defeat Lu Bu who is supposedly a great Chinese warrior. The film is a slow paced, very slow moving character study of how Cao at first crowns himself the king of Wei, while the word is spreading rampant that he is planning on taking over for the Emperor. I will be honest before this review goes any further; Chow has always been a great actor to me before he went to Hollywood. To me in 1998 when he made the Replacement Killers is when I viewed him in a different light, not so much a bad or good one, but a different one. I felt he had built up so much steam that he wanted to be the next Jet Li or Jackie Chan, and it failed for him. And I think after he did The Corruptor he got the same feeling. And, even though Crouching Tiger was fairly good, I just felt he has not been the same since failing to light a spark in Hollywood.
I heard this comparison before and I now believe it, Chow has become the Gerard Depardieu of Chinese films, he just comes in and tries to save a film and then goes to the next. I guess in Chinese cinema his name still holds a lot of weight, but to American viewers like me who were diehard fans of his earlier works, just feel bad today how the mighty have fallen when they tried to Americanize their acts for a bigger crowd. This film is basically a drama set as an epic period piece, a fight for power and a woman who is torn between two lovers. Cao Cao as the film plays on is basically a chancellor, who is the number two person in the Han Dynasty and he wants to get to number one who is Emperor Xian, the emperors men see Cao Cao as a threat to them so they want to assassinate him and try to think of ways which include snatching kids who Cao killed their parents. This film really tries, and god it tries to make you feel like it is some epic period piece that will get you guys talking. While it was very short of that, all in all it was an ok watch, maybe worth a rental.
The very big positive to this film is how awesome it comes across on blu ray. Say what you want about Well Go USA they do not skimp on most of their releases and give you amazing quality of both picture and sound on the bulk of their releases. This film on the television and the home theater system was amazing just for the beauty of how it looked and sounded. So if you have a home theater system you pride yourself on and did not skimp on buying a television, you would maybe want to seek out the blu ray to this film. While the film is very flawed and very slow, it was at least worth a watch and again Well Go USA gives the major studios a run for what they are doing on these blu ray transfers.
6 out of 10