The Warlords

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This article is about the 2007 film. For the similarly-titled episode of Doctor Who, see The Crusade.
The Warlords
Warlords 2007 poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Traditional 投名狀
Simplified 投名状
Mandarin Tóu Míng Zhuàng
Cantonese Tau4 Ming4 Zong6
Directed by Peter Chan
Produced by Peter Chan
Andre Morgan
Written by Xu Lan
Chun Tin-nam
Aubery Lam
Huang Jianxin
Jojo Hui
He Jiping
Guo Junli
James Yuen
Starring Jet Li
Andy Lau
Takeshi Kaneshiro
Xu Jinglei
Music by Chan Kwong-wing
Peter Kam
Chatchai Pongprapaphan
Leon Ko
Cinematography Arthur Wong
Edited by Wenders Li
Production
  company
Media Asia Films
China Film Group
Morgan & Chan Films
Distributed by Media Asia Distribution
ARM Distribution
Release date(s)
  • 12 December 2007 (2007-12-12) (China)
  • 13 December 2007 (2007-12-13) (Hong Kong)
Running time 127 minutes
Country Hong Kong
China
Language Mandarin
Budget US$40,000,000
Box office HK$27,495,779 (Hong Kong)

The Warlords, previously known as The Blood Brothers, is a 2007 epic war film directed by Peter Chan and starring Jet Li, Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Xu Jinglei. The film was released on December 13, 2007 simultaneously in most of Asia, except Japan.[1] The film is set in the 1860s, during the Taiping Rebellion in the late Qing Dynasty in China and centers on the sworn brotherhood of three men.

Plot[edit]

The film is set in the 1860s, during the Taiping Rebellion in the late Qing Dynasty of China. The story is based on the assassination of Ma Xinyi in 1870.

The story begins with a battle where Qingyun, a Qing army general, is the only survivor. He is defeated because the rival General Ho was supposed to send reinforcements but withheld them. Qingyun encounters a girl named Liansheng who nurses him back to health. Once he regains his strength, Qingyun comes upon a bandit village which is run by Wuyang and Liansheng's husband Erhu. Qingyun fights with the bandits as they attack a Taiping convoy, and they kill the soldiers and take the supplies. Later, however, a Qing army attacks their village and steals those supplies in turn.

Qingyun convinces the bandits to form an army and fight for the Qing, so they can feed their families. Erhu and Wuyang do not trust Qingyun, and only agree after the three brothers swear a "Blood Oath", with which they affirm their fraternity to one another under pain of death. Qingyun reports back to the Qing lords with this new army, and they tell him where to attack. In the first battle Qingyun's army is outnumbered but he wins. Qingyun's subsequent promotion and increased support from the Qing lords spurs him to lead the brothers and his armies through a long but successful campaign against the rebels. His victories cause him to become ambitious in the process, during which he reveals his plan to quickly take Suzhou and Nanjing, the principal power bases of the Taiping rebels, and his dream of ridding the world of oppression.

Fearing Qing-yun's growing power and influence, the Qing lords decide to deny Qingyun valuable reinforcements and provisions; without their support, Qingyun's attack on Suzhou devolves into a year long siege, with both sides suffering from starvation. Desperate, Qingyun negotiates with his longtime rival and nemesis, General Ho, offering him half of the spoils of Nanking in return for supplies. Meanwhile Erhu sneaks into the city disguised as an opium dealer, hoping to assassinate the Taiping general ruling Suzhou and thus end the siege. The general sees through Erhu's plot and forces Erhu to duel him. The general purposely loses and gets killed by Erhu so he can surrender the city without disobeying his command not to surrender. His dying wish is that his soldiers and citizens be spared, and Erhu agrees to these terms. After Suzhou surrenders, however, Qingyun does not agree because there isn't a way to feed several thousand prisoners. They can't be trusted enough to be conscripted, and if they are released they will straightaway rejoin the Taiping army of another city. So he orders the prisoners killed. Erhu screams at Qingyun to stop as Qingyun's archers kill the thousands of prisoners while Erhu helplessly was screaming in despair while being chained on the ankles at the back of the castle. Erhu then considers desertion, but Qingyun convinces him to stay by arguing that there are millions of innocents to save in Nanjing.

The Nanjing campaign becomes a grand success and the Empress says that Qingyun will become governor of Nanjing. Qingyun starts to get close with the Qing lords while waiting for his inauguration. Erhu, however, has been jaded by the war, and does improper things such as handing out gold to the soldiers without permission. The Qing lords are upset by his behavior and persuade Qingyun that Erhu must be killed. Qingyun feeds Erhu false information that Qingyun is out of town and about to be killed in a plot by General Ho. Erhu rides out to warn him, and gets killed by Qingyun's hidden archers. While Erhu dies he curses General Ho, not realizing Qingyun is responsible. Meanwhile, Wuyang discovers Qingyun's affair with Liansheng and catches wind of the plot against Erhu. Believing that Qingyun wants Erhu killed over Liansheng, Wuyang murders her. Wuyang then recalls the blood oath and decides that Qingyun must die.

During the inauguration ceremony Wuyang attacks Qingyun, but is unable to defeat Qingyun in combat. It is then revealed through a flashback that the Empress would never really make an outsider like Qingyun a governor. She hated Qingyun for his success and arranged for an assassin to kill him while the ceremony is in progress. The assassin appears behind Qingyun while he is fighting Wuyang and shoots Qingyun in the back, which together with now Qingyun unable to move, he encourages to honor the oath they made by allowing Wuyang to deliver the finishing blow. Wuyang then stabs Qingyun exclaiming that he successfully killed him honoring the oath. Wuyang then narrates that "Dying was much easier. Living is harder".

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

From left, director Peter Chan and stars Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau, and Jet Li at the premiere of The Warlords at SF World Cinema, CentralWorld, Bangkok.

The film was originally titled The Blood Brothers (simplified Chinese: 刺马; traditional Chinese: 刺馬). Director Peter Chan said it was influenced by the late Chang Cheh's 1973 film The Blood Brothers, which is itself based on a famous high profile assassination of a local governor in 1870, but denied that it is a remake. He also decided to change the title to The Warlords in order to avoid confusion.[1] (Note that there is another Chinese film with the English title Blood Brothers released in mid-2007.)

When asked why he chose to move away from his familiar turf of romance films, Chan said that The Warlords is actually not a martial arts film at its heart, though it contains elements of the martial arts. He added that he had made a wish to make a film depicting men's affections after watching John Woo's 1986 film A Better Tomorrow over twenty years ago, and has now finally gotten the chance.[2] His goal is thus to "lead [his] audience to reclaim [the same kind of passion]" as in A Better Tomorrow, which he said is lacking in recent films.[3]

Shooting began in early December 2006 in Beijing. Many outdoor scenes were shot in Beijing, Shanghai and the town of Hengdian in Zhejiang province.[4]

The film ran into copyright troubles on 19 March 2007 when Chinese artist Wang Kewei filed a lawsuit against the film company for using his work in the promotional artworks without his consent. Wang claimed that in a short promotional video shown during a press conference held on 11 December 2006 in Beijing, the film company used ten pieces of his work with minor alterations. The film company has not given an official response.[5]

Production of The Warlords officially wrapped up on 28 March 2007.[6] Post-production work was divided among Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Bangkok.[1]

Jet Li received US$15 million, while Andy Lau received US$6 million and Takeshi Kaneshiro received US$2 million for the film. The film had a budget of US$40 million. The producers explained the huge salary for Jet Li (over a third of the film's budget) by saying Jet Li's participation ensures an international distribution for the film.

Reception[edit]

In IMDB the film has received a rather positive review of 70% by over 17 000 film critics and viewers.[7]

The film won countless prizes in the Chinese, Hong Kong, Asian and international film festivals in 2008-2009.[8][9]

In Rotten Tomatoes the film has an aggregated score of 65% based on 51 reviews.[10]

Perry Lam of Muse has also given the film a generally positive review, praising it for taking 'a clear-eyed but sympathetic look at its flawed heroes'.[11]

Awards and nominations[edit]

27th Hong Kong Film Awards[edit]

  • Won: Best Film
  • Won: Best Director (Peter Chan)
  • Won: Best Actor (Jet Li)
  • Won: Best Cinematography (Arthur Wong)
  • Won: Best Art Direction (Yee Chung-Man, Yi Zheng-Zhou, Pater Wong)
  • Won: Best Costume and Makeup Design (Yee Chung-Man, Jessie Dai, Lee Pik-Kwan)
  • Won: Best Sound Design (Sunit Asvinikul, Nakorn Kositpaisal)
  • Won: Best Visual Effects (Ng Yuen-Fai)
  • Nominated: Best Actor (Andy Lau)
  • Nominated: Best Original Film Score (Chan Kwong-Wing, Peter Kam, Chatchai Pongprapaphan, Leon Ko)
  • Nominated: Best Film Editing (Wenders Li)
  • Nominated: Best Action Choreography (Ching Siu-Tung)

45th Golden Horse Awards[edit]

  • Won: Best Film
  • Won: Best Director (Peter Chan)
  • Won: Best Visual Effects (Eddy Wong, Victor Wong, Ken Law)
  • Won: Best 800 Bandits (Bandit 1, Bandit 2, etc.)
  • Nominated: Best Actor (Jet Li)
  • Nominated: Best Original Screenplay (Xu Lan, Chun Tin Nam, Aubrey Lam, Huang Jian-Xin, Jojo Hui, He Ji Ping, Guo Jun Li, James Yuen)
  • Nominated: Best Cinematography (Arthur Wong)
  • Nominated: Best Film Editing (Wenders Li)
  • Nominated: Best Art Direction (Yee Chung -Man, Yi Zheng-Zhou, Pater Wong)
  • Nominated: Best Makeup & Costume Design (Yee Chung -Man, Jessie Dai, Lee Pik-Kwan)
  • Nominated: Best Action Choreography (Ching Siu-Tung)
  • Nominated: Best Sound Effects (Sunit Asvinikul, Nakorn Kositpaisal)
  • Nominated: Best Original Film Score (Chan Kwong-Wing, Peter Kam, Chatchai Pongprapaphan, Leon Ko)

2nd Asian Film Awards[edit]

  • Won: Best Visual Effects (Ng Yuen Fai)
  • Nominated: Best Film
  • Nominated: Best Director (Peter Chan)
  • Nominated: Best Actor (Jet Li)
  • Nominated: Best Cinematographer (Arthur Wong)
  • Nominated: Best Editor (Wenders Li)

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Coonan, C. "Chan's 'Warlords' wraps", Variety, 2007-03-30. Retrieved on 2007-04-02.
  2. ^ Unknown. "Peter Chan steps away from romance", CCTV, 2006-12-25. Retrieved on 2007-04-03.
  3. ^ (Chinese) Unknown. "A visit to the shooting of Warlords", Sina Entertainment, 2007-03-16. Retrieved on 2007-04-03.
  4. ^ (Chinese) Unknown. "Blood Brothers begins shooting in Beijing", Nanfang Daily, 2006-12-05. Retrieved on 2007-04-03.
  5. ^ (Chinese) Unknown. "Warlords in copyright troubles", Beijing Morning Post, 2007-03-20. Retrieved on 2007-04-02.
  6. ^ (Chinese) Unknown. "Warlords wraps up, to be released simultaneously across Asia before New Year", Beijing Morning Post, 2007-04-02. Retrieved on 2004-04-02.
  7. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0913968/?ref_=sr_1
  8. ^ http://blogs.thehindu.com/films/?p=5052
  9. ^ http://www.warlordsthemovie.com/2013/03/08/awards-for-the-warlords/
  10. ^ "The Warlords (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-03-29. 
  11. ^ Lam, Perry (1 2008). "'Reinventing heroism'". Muse Magazine (12): 104. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
After This Our Exile
Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Film
2008
Succeeded by
Ip Man
Preceded by
Lust, Caution
Golden Horse Awards for Best Film
2008
Succeeded by
No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti