An Empress and the WarriorsMarch 19, 2008
After the death of her father, a woman is forced to take over as empress and fight to save her kingdom.
Release Year: 2008
Rating: 5.7/10 (1,879 voted)
Stars: Donnie Yen, Xiaodong Guo, Zhenghai Kou
Can a kingdom change its nature? Yan, one of the Ten Kingdoms, is constantly at war. Yan's emperor dies from a battle wound and a general's treachery. His successor is unclear: his daughter Feier, who would be the kingdom's first empress; his favorite, Xuehu, a warrior of noble heart but not noble blood; and, Hu Ba, the ambitious traitor. Xuehu is Feier's protector and teaches her how to be a warrior queen. Hu's followers plot her failure, first in a kidnapping plot, then in a coup. Feier is saved from the kidnap attempt by Duan Lanquan, an ingenious hermit with a shrouded past. He treats her wound and gives her a vision of a different kind of kingdom. Can his dream become hers?
Writers: James Yuen, Cheung Tan
(as Guo Xiao Dong)
(as Kou Zhen Hai)
(as Liu Wei Hua)
(as Zhang Shan)
(as Zhou Bo)
(as Yan Jie)
Young Muyong Xuehu
Young Yan Feier
(as Yang Yi Yi)
(as Chou Zhong He)
Tribal Priest's Helper
Dong Dong Wang
(as Wang Dong Dong)
(as Liu Xin Yi)
Release Date: 19 March 2008
A Nutshell Review: An Empress and The Warriors
I guess a new Hong Kong trend is emerging. I recall that as a kid,
there was the Mr Vampire movie, which spawned a slew of Chinese vampire
movies in its wake. Then there was John Woo's A Better Tomorrow, which
gave birth to a whole lot of brotherhood-amongst-thieves themed films.
And then there was Once Upon A Time in China, which brought about a
renaissance in martial arts movies based on historical or beloved
fictional folk heroes. These days, we're living in the Warring period
era, where we have a fixation with armour, and more armour, thanks to
movies like The Myth, Battle of Wits, The Warlords, Curse of the Golden
Flower, and more to come with Battle of Red cliff, and Three Kingdoms:
Resurrection of the Dragon.
An Empress and The Warriors continue this trend, based on the state of
Yan which is under constant warring with the state of Zhao. The titular
characters here are Yen Feier (Kelly Chen) who becomes empress after
the assassination of her Emperor father, and because of the unhappiness
of rival generals over the appointment of Donnie Yen's General Muyong
Xuehu as heir to the throne. So he refuses to partake in any more
political schemes, and throws his support behind his childhood friend
and unrequited love of his life, whose relationship with her is made
even more complex as he has to train her to become a warrior, ala
Mulan, in montage style.
And no thanks to her scheming cousin Wu Ba (Guo Xiao-Dong) who tries
his very best in sowing discord amongst the court / generals, in order
to see his ambition of sitting on the throne through. Another
assassination attempt on the life of Feier, and we're introduced to the
other Warrior from the title, Duan Lan-Quan (Leon Lai), who in actual
fact looks like and lives like an Eastern Robin Hood, on a set that
looks a complete rip off from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The
inevitable romantic tangle between single beautiful princess and good
looking doctor begins, and begs the question whether she still
remembers her pledge to put country first.
In truth, there are many elements here from the Robin Hood folklore,
besides the set, with the bows and arrows, ambush cum assault which was
thankfully well done in keeping up the tempo, and a fight sequence atop
floating logs that drew inspiration from Robin vs Little John. The
romantic angle though was quite unnatural and unfortunately felt very
forced, and bogged down the entire movie, with Feier in a dilemma
choosing between two potential beaus, and each of them having reason to
hold a candle for her. I was half expecting Bryan Adams to come belting
out his hit single, but we're treated to a duet by the two leads (who
are singers by the way), in what I believe could have a chance to top
the mando-pop charts.
Action wise, you've got to leave it to Donnie Yen to deliver the goods.
Alas, there's nothing too different here with the war battle sequences,
as it again borrows heavily from its peers, in particular, Stanley
Tong's The Myth (in fact, too much and too direct a reference), and cut
down one too many horses (none were harmed of course). Yen did seem
rather stiff under all that heavy metal, and there isn't any single
fight sequence that stood out during battles, except perhaps for that
token same-screen sharing scene with Leon Lai, or that flight into the
forest (yet another nod in the direction of A Touch of Zen).
All that's left of this movie that's worth mentioning, are the
beautiful, intricately designed suits of armour, so much so that even
Leon Lai has a full suit just to aesthetically please the movie's
poster, and the cinematography, credit due to Zhao Xiao-Ding, who also
lensed House of Flying Daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower.
An Empress and the Warriors turned out to be a movie that's neither
here nor there – a weak romance and a weak war action movie, and its
storyline, which at times confounds because of its implausibilities in
character motivation and loopholes, all add up to making this an
average movie at best.