Eye For Film >> Movies >> An Empress And The Warriors (2008) Film Review
The Asian martial arts epic certainly seems to be in vogue at present, though the latest entry from Hong Kong fails to bring anything new to the genre.
Set in an unspecified time in Ancient China, Kelly Chen plays Yen Feier, daughter to the King of Yan and heir to the throne when her father is betrayed and killed by one of his own. Much against the protest of her fellow soldiers, Yen must step up to the challenge and train in the art of war if she hopes to lead her army to victory.
Considering An Empress And The Warriors is directed by veteran action choreographer, Ching Siu-Tung (a favourite of director, Zhang Yimou, who employed Ching’s talents for Hero and Curse Of The Golden Flower), the film’s action scenes are surprisingly flat and unspectacular, and rather frustratingly, you see very little of the epic battle that takes place at the film’s outset.
Filching elements from the likes of Gladiator, Crouching Tiger, early Nineties Wuxia movies and recent Asian war epics, An Empress An The Warriors is a hodgepodge of familiar ideas, an East meets West concoction of tragedy, action and romance. Indeed, things slow down considerably when the romantic element kicks in, with Yen being saved from the clutches of a gang of assassins by a dreamboat forest dweller (played by Leon Lai). Building to a cringe-inducing crescendo of light and fluffy nonsense thanks to a curious hot air balloon sequence and some fireside snuggling, these overly soppy moments don’t do the film any favours.
While boasting eye catching costumes and production design, the film contains very little meat, flitting between action and romance but not doing a particularly good job with either. The performances bring very little emotion to the proceedings, with a wooden Kelly Chen and Leon Lai failing to ignite any kind of spark on screen, while prolific superstar, Donnie Yen, simply goes through the motions.Reviewed on: 23 Mar 2009