Everyone loves historical epic tales, especially when they’re done right. Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon has massive commercial appeal, and the film is beautifully shot. 228 A.D, before the rise of the Jin Dynasty. The kingdoms of Shu, Wei and Wu are divided. Zhilong is a soldier who becomes a legendary warrior under the employ of Liu who rises from the ranks of the Shu forces to become one of the Five Tiger Generals. The film is narrated by Sammo Hung, Zhilong’s oldest friend who joined the Liu army with him many years ago. The film is supposed to cover thirty years, Zhilong was a simple soldier who ascends to become a simple general and so the film feels a little too short.
Now, don’t laugh at me, but I have learned quite a bit about the generals of this era through the video game, Dynasty Warriors. I’ve recognized a lot of the generals depicted in this film due to playing that game. Sadly, none of these great personas around Zilong – Liu Bei, Zhuge Liang, Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Cao Cao – are given more than a passing introduction. Unfortunately, I believe this legend needed to be three solid hours of epic story weaving. Instead, what we have is a poorly scraped-together highlight reel that tries more to send a message than portray this legendary man.
The plot seems fractured and it just doesn’t flow, probably as it jumps through time too quickly and because of this you cannot get indepth with the characters and story. In the reality, the general just died form old age and Cao Cao never had a daughter that was a martial art expert. But, Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon combines drama, action, and adventure following in the footsteps of other great Chinese films of recent years. Historical buffs might be a bit annoyed but by the casual viewer you should find a lot to enjoy here. The battles are extremely violent, with a great cinematic flare. Though big-budget Chinese epics have become a familiar sight in recent years, the Three Kingdoms era is rarely tackled in cinema for some reason.
With the performers and director involved, most people would think this is just another martial arts movie. While there are some truly stunning one on one fight scenes, this is a big scale historical epic set before the unification of China under the first emperor. Maggie Q is gorgeous as always and Andy Lau does a great job. The only gripe is the inaccuracies and that it needed to be longer to develop plot lines more. Otherwise, a magnificent, moving feast that will leave you breathless. Just don’t expect the magic and wonder of Red Cliff to be duplicated.