Monday, September 3, 2012

Movie Review: Jade Warrior

EDIT: Sorry guys, I got distracted, started this one too late last night, planned to finish this and the anime review today and woke up at 6:15 to my toilet flooding and just didn't get enough sleep after that to deal with the rest of the day and write two reviews. So, anime coming Tuesday, hopefully everything will be back on track by Friday (and hopefully I'll be able to finally get my schedule for this semester settled, the first few weeks are always hard for me to readjust to and that hasn't been helping either). 

Here's a title I've been meaning to see for years since it's a favorite of a friend of mine, a combination of Finnish and Chinese mythology set in modern day Finland about a smith. You can't say that any part of that is a regular in movies (heck, I can barely think of any stories, across mediums, that have a smith as a main character and that's the most normal part of the last sentence) and I had found a copy of it at the local college library a few years back so I made sure to find some time at the very tail end of my summer to see how this movie even worked.

Jade Warrior

Summary: Centuries ago in ancient China a half-Finnish half-Chinese warrior named Sintai was tasked with killing a demon that threatened to enslave all of humanity and was to be rewarded with Nirvana if he succeeded. Along the way however he falls in love and realizes if can never come to pass if he kills the demon (since he cannot be with her in this life and won't have any other lives if he succeeds) which leaves him conflicted over what path to take. Now in modern day Finland the smith Kai is feeling the effects of his previous life and must now choose how to finish that same task laid before him. 

The Good: The plot sounds a bit complicated on paper (I'm afraid I might've said too much actually but that was as far as I could pare it down) but it actually flows well and neither story line spoils the other surprisingly enough. The movie has a lot of ideas in it which I found rather new and it takes a path with the romance that isn't often done which made me happy since not only was it different but it worked within the story.  

The Bad: Despite my earlier comments about the plot, this wasn't really a plot heavy story or even a character heavy story for me, it was more about atmosphere than anything else. I still enjoyed it but I think that would make it harder to recommend to people (right now I can see myself recommending it to fans of the wuxia genre or if someone is a big mythology buff but outside of those two niches I don't know if many people would like it). I know that often I say that I can't recommend a story to a lot of people like it's a bad thing and truthfully it's not technically a bad thing, but the fact that I don't think a story will interest people and it's not full of anything like, facts that only a hardcore history buff would know and a non-buff wouldn't get/enjoy the story because of it, I think does mean that it hasn't worked the way it should. That's simply my opinion however, although I really don't think that this film is going to interest most people unless they want to sit through a slow, mostly atmosphere film that's told a bit out of order and doesn't have tons of character development either.

The Audio: Due to some circumstances on my end I had a hard time hearing the movie (it was in no way shape or form the fault of the DVD, I just had a really loud fan blowing) and I honestly can't remember if there was an English dub for the movie (Amazon doesn't list on in any case) because I was watching the original audio. If I remember correctly the audio itself is something interesting it's half-Finnish and half-Chinese depending on what timeframe it's focusing on and movies that are bilingual are, while not unheard of, fairly uncommon and I can only think of a one or two others. Obviously I don't speak either of these languages so I can't say how good the acting was, and with the cast being a mixture of Finnish and Chinese this choice also makes some logical, filming, sense, but I still thought it was a neat idea and worked fine for me since both parts were subtitled. 

The Visuals: There were a lot of interesting settings in the movie, like Kai's forge and the desolate Chinese landscapes in the flashback, although there is some CGI used in points which seems rather obvious to me now (the joys of using a technology that is still advancing rapidly). I've seen a few complaints about how the fight scenes looked and, while I didn't see anything that seemed really off they certainly didn't grab me as much as the ones in say, Hero or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

In the end I enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would (given it's weird premise), can't really think of anyone I know to recommend it to and don't feel the need to re-watch it anytime soon. Although writing this review reminds me that I never saw all of House of Flying Daggers and other than this it's been quite a while since I saw a wuxia film.....

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