Sunday, July 11, 2004

Film — Warriors of Heaven and Earth

Wuxia meets Western in this Chinese film from last year, with a lot less of the wire fu of, say, Crouching Tiger, and more of the feeling of Stagecoach.

Lai Xi, a Japanese emissary to the T'ang court is sent out to capture Li, a renengade Chinese soldier, who deserted rather than murder non-combatant prisoners, far to the west along the Silk Road. Li meanwhile is one of the handful of survivors of a caravan, after a sand storm, slowly putting together enough people to bring it through to the Capital. As Lai catches up with Li, the local warlord, backed by the Khan of the Turks, is after the caravan, leading to series of running battles, culminating in the siege of a remote fort.

The bleak deserts and the lush lake country of central Asia lend all the atmosphere the film needs; and the battles are played in a generally understated way, up to the final moments.

Highly recommended.

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