Genre: Action/Martial Arts
UK Release date: 7th December 2012
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 29th September 2013.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I remember when this one came out there appeared to be a certain amount of anticipation; probably due to the (tenuous) involvement of one Quentin Tarantino; he ‘Presented’ this one (whatever that means). Looking on how well it’s done since, it appears all that anticipation was misplaced. But I digress; the film is set in feudal China where a Blacksmith (RZA) is forced to make weapons in order to protect his village from feuding gangs and government forces looking for a lost shipment of gold. To add spice to this there’s also an English Officer in the village, Jack Knife (Russell Crowe), a son looking for revenge on his murdered father, Zen Yi, The X-Blade (Rick Yune) and a brothel madam who knows more than she lets on, Madam Blossom (Lucy Liu). On the bad guys side we have; Silver Lion (Byron Mann), Poison Dagger (Daniel Wu), Bronze Lion (Cung Le) and Brass Body (Dave Bautista). Finally there’s the Blacksmith’s sweetheart, Lady Silk (Jamie Chung).
There is plenty of action with a fight scene every five minutes (or so it seems); the pacing is kept pretty high throughout also. There are many impressive set-pieces with many tricks we’ve seen before being re-used. For me, this wasn’t a problem; I wanted to be entertained and that’s just what I got. There is quite a high gore-factor though, so it’s definitely not one for the squeamish. All the performances were very good with Russell Crowe, despite a very Aussie sounding English accent, standing out for me. I was impressed with RZA; I thought he did a very decent job taking on the dual role of actor and director. Lucy Liu was as reliable as ever and I also liked the performances of Rick Yune and Byron Mann. It’s quite a simple tale told with a very highly paced action orientated script. It’s well made and did just what it said on the tin. This is one of those where I’m going to disagree with popular opinion and give it more credit than most because I didn’t think it was that bad.
SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED
My score: 6.6/10.
IMDb Score: 5.4/10 (based on 37,468 votes when this review was written).
MetaScore: 51/100: (Based on 18 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 41/100: (based on 44,945 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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