This movie about the Three Kingdoms period of Ancient China is a strange beast. My knowledge of the period is based solely on the Dynasty Warriors video games, and I was quickly able to identify Zhuge Liang, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, but didn’t realise that the protagonist Zilong was Zhao Yun.
Much of the movie is a flashback, depicting Zhao Yun’s rise to greatness within Liu Bei’s army as he fights Cao Cao; then decades are skipped and comrades fall away, Zhao Yun is sent North to fight Wei once more, and the timeline joins with the movie’s opening. The ending is somewhat inconclusive, but the movie’s themes come through: personal ambition, the ephemerality of achievements, and treating others as pawns.
The subtitles were pretty bad: there were English mistakes, untranslated lines, and butchery of names that should have been instantly recognisable from Dynasty Warriors.
The fight scenes were impressive, and I especially enjoyed the strategies and psychological tactics employed by the different sides. I liked Maggie Q’s villain and Sammo Hung’s untalented hanger-on.