The Warlords

 

The Warlords / Tou ming zhuang (Hong Kong/China, 2007) As part of the contemporary revival of the martial arts epic, Hong Kong director Peter Chan’s The Warlords is a gritty update of the 1973 Shaw classic Blood Brothers, directed by kung fu auteur Chang Cheh. Military general Pang Qingyun (Jet Li), Zhao Er-hu (Andy Lau), and Zhang Wen-xiang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) are sworn blood brothers, whose deep fraternal bond leads them to military victories and political glory. But personal ambitions and an illicit affair between Pang and Zhao’s wife (Xu Jinglei) soon drive a wedge between the blood brothers, with devastating consequences. In a post-Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon era, Peter Chan’s epic remake marks a significant shift in the visual aesthetics of the martial arts genre as it now turns to a gritty realism that befits the film’s meditation on the sobering ethics of war, loyalty, and desire. Of particular note are the spectacular battle sequences, which set the stage for a spate of Chinese kung-fu war films to follow, including John Woo’s stunning Red Cliff (2008). This screening of The Warlords is jointly presented by the IFS and the Schulze Speaker Series. Synopsis Author: Kenneth Chan

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