Jade Warrior earns points for its nifty mixture of cultures and eras. You see, it is a rare combo of Finnish folklore and Chinese martial arts. The story follows Kai, whose girlfriend just dumped him. Being torn apart by his love he thinks of commiting suicide for his suffering to finally end. Kai starts to receive buried memories returning to him, revealing why the conflict over the Sampo still exists, and why he’s so depressed. All this, plus martial arts action! Sound good right? Yes, this is why I initially tracked this film down to watch. I’ll go in depth as to why this movie was a failure.
It’s an underachieved effort and those who expect a wuxia film will be disappointed, as there is nearly nothing to please the fan of the chinese genre. The film takes place in environments as diverse as a Finnish ice cap and China’s Gobi deesrt. But looking back, it made no sense at all. There’s a lot of grand stuff like this going on in Jade Warrior but it’s all handled in such a ponderous manner that it starts to feel tiresome and not engaging. Jade Warrior doesn’t quite realize its full potential. There are many scenes that beg to be expanded.
Furthermore, some aspects of the film aren’t elaborated well enough. The love story with Ronja is such a case. Although the acting is ok, so little emotion is displayed by the actors that I felt pretty much none. And normally I love movies that throw you into a story and bide their time in letting you figure it out, but when you don’t know what the story even is until the very end…AND it’s this slow….that’s a mistake. But, admittedly, I enjoyed how the film tried to tie the two legends from different cultures together. It is a strange blend of finno-ugric and ancient chinese mythologies, but somehow it worked, barely, and the battles in the movie are rather stylish.
What looks bad, at least to my eyes, are the depictions of ancient China. There are some gripping scenes but otherwise it looks like they invited a bunch of Chinese to film in a bunch of old Finnish buildings. Jade Warrior may sound like a martial arts epic and at times even resemble one, but don’t be fooled, it is bargain bin material. It is passable due to the fact that it is a production I have never witness so it gets points for uniqueness. A lot of the credit for the movie’s success has to go to actor Tommi Eronen, who carries this film on his back but sadly it all gets tedious and unfathomable within the first 30 minutes.