A quick preview of Ip Man 2 as Sammo Hung and Donnie Yen are in yet another film. This time around, 14 Blades features an epic story but is plagued with poorly edited fight scenes and a paper thin script that doesn’t benefit any of the actors. To paraphrade, no matter what good could come from this film, there are many moments in 14 Blades that could have been better made. The film tells the story of the Brocade Guards who are a squad of street orphans highly trained as skilled government officers who are in charge of defending the homeland. Their leader Qinglong, played by Donnie Yen is the most skilled of the Brocade and also has the honor of carrying the famed 14 Blades.
People who have an interest in this film will no doubt be drawn to the fighting scenes. Most of the actors here are either from a dance background or none at all, and to make it look as real as possible, fast editing technique can be seen used up quite a lot. Not very careful diting either. During a helicopter shot of Kate Tsui’s character driving a wagon, she is very obviously doubled by a man. For a big budget production I find this unacceptable. For those wanting high octane scenes I say find another movie to watch because 14 Blades turns out to have an incredibly strong romance instead. However, the backbone of the story is Qinglong’s tragedy of growing up with no individual identity except as a weapon.
It is great seeing Donnie Yen coming back into form but I am just bored to tears with it. After all, it is a pretty straightforward period action movie. It was nice to see themain star not go berserk on everyone untouched though, as he gets hurt pretty regularly. It brought a hint of realism to an otherwise far fetched film. The Brunei born Wu Chun who plays “The Judge of the Dessert”, leader of the ‘Sky Eagles’ bandit troupe in the movie, had put up with a very powerful performance. Too bad he died, though, as I would have loved to watch his exploits in the dessert. In short, it’s very much of a generic crowd pleasing formula where the general movie-goers are mostly fans of comedy, action, horror, sex and pretty faces.
Donnie Yen cements his mark on martial arts Wuxia films, but is that saying anything much nowadays? With Jet Li exiting the game there isn’t much competition. If the plot sounds familiar then you should know that 14 Blades is in fact a very loose remake of the excellent Shaw Brothers film The Secret Service of the Imperial Court a.k.a. Police Pool of Blood. I would recommend tracking that film down instead as it is much better. Still, not to take anything away from this film, but Donnie Yen is capable of better. Quite honestly, I was inclined to turn this movie off prematurely but pushed through it, thankfully due to the spurts of action and cool CGI. 14 Blades comes barely recommended.