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錦衣衛 (2010)
14 Blades

Reviewed by: evirei
Date: 11/14/2011

One of the few great chinese martial art movie in the recent years. Daniel Lee manages to nail the moview perfectly and of course the casting for characters were perfect fit.

Initially I have doubts over Wu Chun's appereances, but I seriously find his character as asian version of "Jack Sparrow" look interesting. The action sequences was clean and neat... and with the added special weapon ingrediant, everything holds on well together.

The only confusing bit is where I find it hard to believe that this movie is set in the Ming Dynasty when we have a huge mixure of Ali Baba and The Bride with White Hair.

In summary, beautiful cinematography, nice setting and colours and stunning choreography.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 10/26/2010
Summary: Forgettable

Somewhere between the big-budget wuxia films of recent years (e.g. House of Flying Daggers) and the early 90's style wuxia that drew so many of us into HK cinema, but somehow rather flat and unsatisfying. The story is kinda dumb, it's all too ponderous and though it looks pretty it failed to keep my attention much of the time. Disappointing.

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 09/13/2010
Summary: Mediocre

14 BLADES is a Wuxia Pian starring Yen as troubled warrior guard Qinglong, one of the few still loyal to an Emperor usurped by an evil eunuch. Qinglong is betrayed by his own men and has to employ the help of an Escort service (meaning fighters who protect him from harm, not professional ladies of the night) to help him escape his enemies, forging a bond with the leader’s daughter Qiao Hua (Vicky Zhao Wei).

It turns out that Qinglong killed his brother as a youngster (on purpose, surprisingly) and has been troubled about it ever since. Cue lots of navel-gazing moodiness from Yen and lots of emotion-wrenching scenes as he falls for the lovely Qiao Hua. However, the main emotion likely to be experienced by the viewer is total befuddlement, because unfortunately 14 BLADES is almost entirely incomprehensible. It’s not exactly complex, but it has a habit of introducing characters out of nowhere with little or no explanation and expecting us to care about them.

Admittedly, the sword fights are nicely diverting, but the indifferent CGI special effects let the side the down. And although the supporting cast is a heaven for Hong Kong movie geeks, featuring many stars that I’d assumed had retired or died years ago (and a legless Sammo Hung), the film never settles down into any kind of rhythm, and the muddled narrative means that 14 BLADES never rises above mediocrity.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 07/19/2010
Summary: the brocaded robe guards...

the jinyiwei are a special division of the imperial guard who operate outside of the law, serving from childhood to death. qinlong (donnie yen) is the name given to the strongest and best, the leaser of the jinyiwei. as well as the name, qinlong is given a wooden box containing an array of fourteen special blades. after heading out on a mission, qinlong finds himself betrayed by a junior member of the jinyiwei, xuan wu (qi yu-wu), and the eunuch jia jingzhong (law kar-ying).

seizing the imperial seal from their clutches, qinlong manages to reach the justice society; a gang led by qiao yung (wu ma) and his daughter, hua (vicky zhao), who specialise in smuggling. qinlong is successfully smuggled out of the city, but must now evade capture from the jinyiwei and tuo tuo (kate tsui); the daughter of the rebellious prince qing (sammo hung), whilst attempting to discover what their aims are and take his revenge...

as hong kong action cinema cinema seems to be going through a rather fruitful period, daniel lee chips in with this donnie yen fronted wu xia effort. the film, as some might think of as being traditional in the genre, starts off with a mind boggling amount of information being dumped on the audience, before settling down to a reasonably snappy pace and allowing you to catch up with what the first five minutes of the film meant. after this it, indeed, smooth sailing; a pretty nicely done tale of game-keeper turned poacher in order to get revenge on those who wronged him and clear his name. add in a bit of a romance, a couple of friendly strangers, some not so friendly ones, an evil eunuch, lots of wine, an array of weapons, locations, fighting and, barring a touch of goofball humour, you've got a lot of classic wu xia ingredients in your cinematic pot. i kinda miss the goofball humour...

the narrative, despite treading well worn ground and never throwing anything new into the mix is pretty solid; there's enough to keep you engaged, but not too much to baffle or confuse. the action sequences are good fun, mixing hand to hand combat, swordplay, wire-work and some grander cgi infused moments quite successfully, whilst never really blowing you away. all good, though...

as for the cast, donnie yen does well enough, he seems to be much less intense on screen these days, which is a good thing. vicky zhao is always watchable if not particularly inspiring and, whilst wu ma is always fun to have on screen, sammo barely appears. a special mention and double thumbs up for kate tsui, who brings a nice sense of menace to proceedings.

all in all, this was a diverting and enjoyable film, if nothing particularly new or breathtaking. however, one thing that really bugged me about it was the cinematography. or, maybe it was the lighting, some kind of digital post-production treatment or just the dvd transfer? who knows? whatever it was, the whole affair had a really nasty look to it, a cold, clean, digital quality, with no warmth. it didn't ruin the film, but it made it look nasty.

good, but not great...

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 07/15/2010

The realm of period swordplay is definitely well-worn territory in the martial arts film world and Hong Kong cinema in particular, with dozens upon dozens of releases in the genre coming out from the region over the years. While Daniel Lee's 14 Blades isn't exactly a fresh take on the usual high-flying heroic antics, it still does everything well enough to the point that fans of the genre (and of Donnie Yen) should come away from watching this fully satisfied.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Beat TG
Date: 03/12/2010
Summary: Different kind of wuxia movie

I can't remember the last time I saw something refreshing since perhaps Tsui Hark's THE BLADE. Pretty much every wuxia movie in recent times, including Ang Lee's CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON and Zhang Zimou's epics HERO and CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER, haven't been so impressive to me on the whole because I felt they were lacking something despite doing something different to the genre. Honestly, other than those movies, I can't think of anything else in recent times that comes close to the former movie. Having seen the trailers, I already got hopes for 14 BLADES and had half-expectations for the movie to be very good overall although I had doubts as well. After seeing it, I'm impressed. I'm very surprised at how well done Daniel Lee ended up handling the movie. The overall story, its' characters; events; solutions and conclusions. Everything is good here. I enjoyed not only the big moments (the conflicts and confrontations etc.) but every seconds of everything.

The cast was good and so was the acting, for the most part. Donnie Yen has really shown himself to be remarkable these recent years when it comes to acting and we all knew that after seeing him in IP MAN and the recent BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS (although he was nothing more than a supporting actor). 14 BLADES somewhat marks another great showcase of his acting ability and he just gets better from movie to movie. Already anticipating the upcoming projects he's doing next! Vicki Zhao Wei is equally as good in her role as Donnie Yen's hostage-turned aid and love interest. The relationship that develops between them two isn't really new but the way they go through everything alone and together relies a little more on the ability to make own decisions as well as valuing trust and sacrifice as much as valuing love and regret (I don't think I see that often in movies as it's always about love and sacrifice) and I felt that gave their relationship more weight and resulted something fresh, which was fascinating to get into. Kate Tsui is also someone worth noting. Despite her popularity (she's hot, I'll tell you that!), her reputation (acting skills, private life, event appearances etc) and her small output in movies, I can see where she could become bigger and more talented as an actress. She was pretty good in EYE IN THE SKY but I think it's this movie that could send her into bigger roles in bigger-scaled movies so it should be interesting to see more from her in the future.

And not to forget the action sequences which is one thing that makes 14 BLADES a must-see movie for those who are fans of wuxia martial arts movies. Choreographed by Yuen Woo Ping's co-action director Guk Hin-Chiu (someone to look out for in the future, this man has got talents!), the action strongly showcases wirework and weapons common to this genre but also features a whole lot of empty-handed combat, something wuxia movies often tend to lack. And mostly, the action performances depend on authentic and natural skills of those who are either veterans or even new to this game. Thanks to Guk Hin-Chiu's creative style of action choreography, we get treated to influential and refreshing fight scenes not seen in a long time. Plus the way these scenes are edited (some may not appreciate this style, Daniel Lee's styles) and the way Guk Hin-Chiu put emphasis on the look and feel of the choreography are tastefully done. You get involved by react to the power of the techniques and the rhythm/pacing of the choreography, an important aspect of making good fight scenes. Everyone delivers good fighting performances, even the likes of Wu Zun, Kate Tsui and Qi Yu-Wu.

Overall, I'm pleased with this movie. Donnie Yen has brought us another good movie but thanks to Daniel Lee, we have finally got a great addition in the now tiring trend of wuxia movies and other ancient-based movies that hasn't been the same since the early 1990s when all the classics were produced and loved by the now disappointing Hong Kong audience.

Reviewer Score: 7