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Action Stars Li, Lau, Kaneshiro Shine in The Warlords

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 26, 2010 at 8:23AM

Thursday night I saw the Chinese b.o. juggernaut The Warlords, Peter Chan's breathless $40 million period action epic starring Asian megastars Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro as three blood brothers who fight for the imperial army, which won best film and best director at the Hong Kong Film Awards and the Golden Horse Awards. While the mayhem slows down occasionally to allow some dramatic exposition and a pivotal romance with Jinglei Xu, the movie slams through one bloody battle after another. The three leads are terrific, especially Li, who is a fierce marvel in action, and a powerful, emotive actor.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Thursday night I saw the Chinese b.o. juggernaut The Warlords, Peter Chan's breathless $40 million period action epic starring Asian megastars Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro as three blood brothers who fight for the imperial army, which won best film and best director at the Hong Kong Film Awards and the Golden Horse Awards. While the mayhem slows down occasionally to allow some dramatic exposition and a pivotal romance with Jinglei Xu, the movie slams through one bloody battle after another. The three leads are terrific, especially Li, who is a fierce marvel in action, and a powerful, emotive actor.

The Warlords is already available on VOD and opens in theaters April 2. Here's the Apple trailer (YouTube is on the jump).

I was slightly underwhelmed by this film compared to John Woo's sweeping historical epic Red Cliff, at $80 million the most expensive movie ever made in China, which is now on DVD in both the two-part, five hour and condensed two-and-a-half hour versions. That is a must-see, one way or another.

This article is related to: Genres, Independents, Reviews, Action, Magnolia


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.