Wow, this movies uses bits and pieces from everywhere. It borrows the format of many historical mainland epics of the mid 1980s about monks and spiritualism mixed with fu and swordfighting. And pinches shamelessly from Hitchcock's The Birds ! There are several scenes where crows, eagles and even monkeys amass and attack.
Reviewer Score: 7
The opening scene features people shaking in terror at the punishment meted out to misbehaving villagers. "You are sentenced to pick herbs" they are told. Herbs ? Yep. And they'd rather break rocks, as the herbs are picked along the cliff of a dangerous rockface which is prone to rocks breaking off. Ouch !
And we are given something serious to think about. One of the senior monks tells us that "Notting Comes From Nothing".
Apart from this weirdness, things are a bit dull and confusing for the first 25 minutes. But then the first big set-piece battle starts, and the film begins to gel. The story rambles between several sets of characters, but doesn't lose focus, partly because the goodies and the baddies are clearly denoted, despite being mixed up amongst the three distinct groups (monks, invaders and loyalists).
As you'd expect from a historical epic, there are a number of pretty good big fights, mainly with swords and a bit of fu, and of course plenty of blood and gore. There are occasional hints of romance, but nothing more than that.
There are a few familiar-looking faces in the cast. Odd, because the cast is of unknowns, most of whom I can trace to one other film at the most.
Odd and at times surreal. Certainly different. Despite this, I found the second half, in particular, mesmerising, and was surprised it passed so quickly. Worth a look.