The Warlords is an action epic set during an endless war in 19th century China. Jet Li opens the movie as a disgraced General Pang, who was betrayed and only survived a massacre of his troops by the cowardly act of playing dead. He forms a bond with 2 other soldiers and joins forces to protect the interests of their village clans and help bring about a lasting peace. The story tells a tale of three sworn blood brothers.
Overall, The Warlords show a more ruthless side of Jet Li as he plays his role well while Andy Lau plays a tragic hero torn between different factions. This epic movie does not only stresses on war alone but speaks much about life as well.The humanity of man is clearly depicted in this film. Although not referenced directly, there is alot of true history in Warlords, that from 1850 to 1864, 20 to 30 million Chinese lost their lives due to warfare and starvation as a direct result of a rebellion against the Qing Dynasty. The despair and suffering felt by millions during this period is represented in the film, although no where near as worse as reality was.
The Warlords gradually builds up until the final, fittingly dramatic scene where resolution is achieved. As for the battle scenes, it may well be the bloodiest I’ve seen so far in Hong Kong cinema. Limbs are severed and there are a few gruesome beheadings. The sequences still have the martial arts influence, but no hints of wires are shown.
It’s incredible to watch the thought process of making vital decisions during a battle or within their own army to defy humanity for the greater good. Jet Li has been featured quite a bit on this site but this is one of his better movies. The cinematography is outstanding, the budget is huge, the directing brilliant and the war scenes brutal as can be. I really think it’s a film that shouldn’t be missed by anyone and you should definitely track it down, if you can.