Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The Stars: Jiang Wen, Donnie Yen, Betty Siu
The Buzz: An adaptation from the classic Romance of the Three Kingdoms, with Donnie Yen taking the role of the warrior-deity Guan Wu and Jiang Wen playing Cao Cao.
The Story: After serving under Cao Cao for a brief period of time, Guan Wu sets off to join his sworn brother Liu Bei despite Cao Cao’s attempts to retain him. Guan Wu finds the road back fraught with dangers and treachery.
inSing says: The overworked and overexposed Donnie Yen might consider taking a break, as the skinny actor takes on the role of the barrel-bodied Guan Wu. With his stick-on beard, he does a passable job as the legendary warrior.
Directed by Alex Mak and Felix Chong, who were behind the Infernal Affairs trilogy, The Lost Bladesman is a historical martial arts drama that isn’t just a collection of battles. It brings up the question of personal loyalties versus the good of the country; Cao Cao tries to appeal to Guan Wu’s good senses, claiming that if the legendary warrior does not rejoin Liu Bei the war will be over and the countrymen will prosper. Added to the mix is the lure of Qilan, a prospective concubine of Liu Bei whom Guan Wu has the hots for.
The film breaks into episodes, as Guan Wu rampages through Cao Cao’s territory massacring his followers while he makes his way towards his brother. Jiang Wen, who impressed in the recent hit Chinese action film Let The Bullets Fly, is once again superb as the anti-hero Cao Cao. Mak and Chong have painted him as both a scheming and ambitious politician but also one who wants peace. He’s definitely the better reason to watch this intelligently made drama that weaves action and political intrigue together.