|Literal meaning||"Celestial General, Heroic Army"|
|Directed by||Daniel Lee|
|Written by||Daniel Lee|
|Edited by||Yau Chi-wai|
|Music by||Henry Lai Wan-man|
103 minutes (U.S)
Dragon Blade is a 2015 Chinese historical action film written and directed by Daniel Lee starring Jackie Chan. In the film, Chan plays Huo An, the commander of the Protection Squad of the Western Regions during the Han Dynasty. Dragon Blade was released in IMAX 3D on 19 February 2015, the first day of the Chinese New Year holiday period. The film was released in the United States on 4 September 2015 by Lionsgate Premiere.
In the present day, an American company sends a multinational team of archaeologists and 3D experts led by Christian (Vanness Wu), to uncover an ancient, mysterious and nigh impossible Romano-Chinese ruins named Regum. The team found the location, and started doing the 3D reconstruction using satellite imaging and their holographic technology.
In northwest China, 48 BC (50 BC on screen in the English version), a security, customs and peacekeeping company under Han China's current government called The Silk Road Protection Squad is committed to stopping battles, customs clearing and peacekeeping on the Silk Road. Huo An (Jackie Chan), the captain, successfully averts a battle between Indians (Indo-Greeks) and Huns (Xiongnu), unwittingly disgracing the woman warrior. The squad returns to their unnamed home city with their pay and rewards, where Huo An's gentle Uyghur wife Xiuqing (Mika Wang) serves as a schoolteacher who teaches Chinese for orphans of multiple ethnicities. However, the government uncovers evidence that someone in the Squad is corrupt and accepting bribes, after Han soldiers found bribes among the corpses of enemies they neutralised, causing the entire squad to be sentenced to construction work at Wild Geese Gate, a ruined fortress situated on the fringe of the Western Protectorate, run by a Turkic auxiliary commander, and housing workers, peasants and prisoners of various ethnic groups busy rebuilding the fort. Once they arrive, the group pays respects at the shrine of a fallen Chinese general who was once commander of the Gate. They originally were child-slaves of Han descent and this general had later rescued them, especially Huo An, who were taken care of after rescuing him from the slavers, but not his younger sister. He stabbed the general, but the latter promised him that he can make peace with the ethnic groups in the Silk Road.
Not long after, Wild Geese Gate is threatened by a legion from the Roman Republic in need of water and supplies and on the run, among which is a blind boy named Publius (Jozef Waite), youngest son of Marcus Licinius Crassus, one of the triumvirs of Rome. The Wild Geese Gate commander tried to fight the Romans, but was defeated, and Huo An had an idea to stop the Romans. After a stalemated duel between Huo An and Lucius (Cusack) and Publius collapsing due to thirst, the Roman general agrees not to assault the city in return for his men being let inside, and be given ample supplies, despite the Wild Geese commander's protests. The legion uses its superior engineering skills to speed up the construction work, an act which boosts the morale and happiness of the inhabitants, who are divided among several different ethnic groups, such as Chinese, Uyghurs, Indians, Xiongnu, Kangju, Huns, Parthians, Indo-Greeks, Sogdians, Scythians, Persians, Medes, and Turkic, overall 36 ethnic groups. Huo An returns the favor by sending men to assist Lucius's envoys in reaching the Parthian Empire, giving them a pair of the Protection Squad as guards. A celebration is later held and Huo An is made an honorary centurion by Publius himself.
Lucius reveals that he and Publius are fleeing from Publius's brother Tiberius (Brody), a corrupt soldier who had murdered their father Crassus in the midst of the Battle of Carrhae, and blinded Publius so Tiberius could become consul, and also derailing the peace treaty Crassus tried to settle with the Parthians. As Tiberius approaches with 100,000 soldiers, Huo An insists on helping Lucius, pointing out that Tiberius is a threat to the Silk Road in its entirety, after receiving grave news that the messengers were captured and executed, including 2 of the Protection Squad members sent to guard them. Shortly after Huo An leaves to find reinforcements, the corrupt group member from earlier, revealed to be his second-in-command, sends Chinese soldiers to murder Xiuqing and attack Wild Geese Gate, the Roman general Lucius was betrayed by the traitor in his legion, the Roman legion routed, while the rest were spared. Huo An saved the kids with the help of the Huns, but his wife was mortally wounded when she tried rescuing one of her pupils in her class. At her dying breath, she made her husband promise that he will protect the orphans. The legion is imprisoned in the non-Chinese trading city of Kroran, where Tiberius has chosen to camp. Captured, Publius and his tutor was forced to commit suicide by Tiberius.
Huo An and the few loyal Chinese soldiers travel to Kroran, pretending to surrender, but once they are inside, they destroy the Roman legion's cages, while the traitor inside the Protection Squad tries to deal with Tiberius. Huo An is able to break into Lucius's special solitary cell, finding him tortured and bound, but is unable to free him. A fire breaks out, whereupon Lucius calls out to Huo An to 'take me home'. Huo An shoots Lucius with an arrow, killing him so that he does not have to suffer a slow death by burning. As Huo An's and Lucius's soldiers are surrounded, the armies of several other nations arrive and fight against Tiberius, including the Indians, Han, Uyghurs, and Turkics, all of whom are determined to preserve the Silk Road's safety. However, even their combined forces are unable to gain the upper hand, killing other members of the Protection Squad, the Wild Geese fortress commander and his translator, the tribal warriors and their chieftains until Tiberius saw another group coming towards them. The Parthian and the Roman emissary sent from earlier return with a massive host of Parthians, who had signed a special treaty with Publius's father Crassus, and who intend to avenge his memory. Tiberius's soldiers ceased attacking at once. The envoy asked the consul the reason why he did such a thing, while his tutor and right-hand man tried to entice him to surrender, but he killed him. Huo An challenges Tiberius to a duel and kills him.
Upon hearing about the bravery of Lucius's legion, the Chinese emperor grants the Romans the right to establish their own city, which they choose to name Regum, Li Gan in Chinese, the Emperor too accepted the request of the inhabitants of the Wild Geese to join Huo An's Protection Squad. They accept Huo An as their commander, and Huo An, in turn, honors the deceased Roman general by relocating the shrine to that city. As the centuries go on, the city fades from collective memory. However, in the modern day, a team of Asian American archaeologists stumble upon the site and uncover the dual Chinese and Latin inscriptions, but the duo called nothing of the sort exists.
Huo An, the Romans, and new members of the Protection Squad traverse the Silk Road for their peacekeeping mission once again.
- Jackie Chan as Huo An (霍安), the captain of The Silk Road Protection Squad, a security company for the Han Dynasty
- John Cusack as Lucius, a rogue Roman general who allies with Huo An against the Roman Empire and their emperor, Emperor Tiberius
- Adrien Brody as Emperor Tiberius, the powerful, ruthless and bloodthirsty Emperor of the Roman Empire and the main antagonist of the movie
- Lin Peng as Cold Moon
- Mika Wang as Xiu Qing (Huo An's Wife)
- Choi Siwon as Yin Po
- Xiao Yang as Captain
- Wang Taili as Rat
- Sammy Hung as Red Sun
- Yoo Seung-jun as Cougar
- Lorie Pester as a Parthian Queen
- Vanness Wu as Christian
- Karena Lam as Karena
- Feng Shaofeng as General Huo Qubing (Han Chinese General)
- Sharni Vinson as Lady Crassus
- Jozef Waite as Publius (The Roman Prince)
- Philippe Joly as Decimus
- James Lee Guy (uncredited) as Eugene
Principal photography for Dragon Blade started on 15 April 2014 in Hengdian, China with some battle scenes. The cast and crew encountered difficult filming conditions due to the heat, their heavy costume and long filming hours. Two days later, a press conference for Dragon Blade was held at the Beijing International Film Festival where star Jackie Chan and director Daniel Lee attended and announced the film to be released in IMAX 3D on 19 February 2015, the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year. Aside from Hengdian, production took place in Dunhuang and the Gobi Desert.
The film was shot with a budget of US$65 million. The film was financed by Sparkle Roll Media Corporation, Huayi Brothers Media Corporation, Shanghai Film Group, Home Media & Entertainment Fund, Tencent Video and the Beijing Cultural Assets Chinese Film and Television Fund. A signing ceremony for the launching of Beijing Cultural Assets Chinese Film and Television Fund also occurred there as Dragon Blade is the first film to receive an investment from the fund. International distribution of the film outside of China was handled by Golden Network Asia.
Chan stated that he made the film to express a message of peace for the world.
Dragon Blade was a commercial success in its native country, China. It opened Thursday, February 19 in China and grossed US$18.7 million on the opening day. Through Sunday, February 22, it had a 3-day opening weekend total of US$33 million, topping the Chinese box office (US$54.8 million from Thursday - Sunday) from 132,874 screenings and 8.14 million admissions. Through its opening week it earned US$72 million. The film fell to number three the following weekend, earning US$45.9 million (down 19%). As of March 15, 2015, Dragon Blade has earned US$120 million in China alone.
Dragon Blade has received a mixed reception, but with praise for its large-scale battle sequences, production design, and mixing of styles from both Hollywood and East Asian cinema. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 36% based on reviews from 47 critics, with an average rating of 4.62/10. The site's consensus reads, "Dragon Blade is beautifully staged and choreographed, but between the battles, its talented cast is overwhelmed by a dull story and choppy editing." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 41 out of 100 based on reviews from 12 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Variety's Maggie Lee applauded the film for its overall technical details and concluded it to be "a colossal entertainment with solid technique and terrific storytelling smarts". Clarence Tsui of The Hollywood Reporter complimented Dragon Blade for its filmmaking quality and screenplay for a primarily mainland Chinese production.
IGN awarded it a score of 6 out of 10, saying "The story is rubbish, but Dragon Blade has some cool fight scenes thanks to Jackie Chan's action direction." In a negative review, Gabriel Chong from MovieXclusive.com panned Dragon Blade as being "utterly awful in every respect", criticizing the performances of the starring cast and inconsistent changes in tone. He writes: "Indeed, Dragon Blade is a hot mess and a spectacular misfire, not just by its star but also by its director, and if anything, further confirms that the once-promising careers of Hollywood stars John Cusack and Adrien Brody are going the way of Nicolas Cage".
Indian media gave overwhelmingly negative review on the film. Claiming it to be "a Chinese propagandist film", The Hindu's Venky Vembu criticized the film's lack of subtle messages and disapproved of the characterizations, writing: "I watched this film in 3D, but given the two-dimensional nature of the cardboard characters, I don't think the third D would have vastly enhanced my viewing experience." IANS also labeled the film as "Chinese torture", but did commend the film for its action choreography and Jackie Chan's performance as the Chinese General Huo An: "With ample footage in action and emotional scenes, [Huo An] is one of the best characters Chan has portrayed in recent years."
Marcus Licinius Crassus invaded Parthia in 53 BC, but most of his entire army was destroyed. The historian Homer H. Dubs speculated in 1941 that Roman prisoners of war who were transferred to the eastern border of the Parthian empire might later have clashed with Han troops there. Similar claims, and even a Roman force defecting to China, have been made since. These include a supposed Roman town near modern Liqian. But most historians do not accept this.
- Daqin (ancient Chinese name for the Roman Empire)
- Jackie Chan filmography
- Sino-Roman relations
- The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines
- The Great Wall, a film about a group of mercenary soldiers from Europe who wind up in China during the Northern Song Dynasty
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The film's budget is claimed to be a record for a Chinese-financed movie. The film is backed by Sparkle Roll Cultural Media, Huayi Brothers Media Corporation, Shanghai Film Group and new film investment group Beijing Cultural Assets Chinese Film & Television Fund.
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Dragon Blade is backed by Sparkle Roll Media Corporation, Huayi Brothers Media, Shanghai Film Group, Home Media & Entertainment Fund, Tencent Video and Beijing Cultural Assets Chinese Film and Television Fund.
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Dragon Blade is financed by Sparkle Roll Media Corporation, Huayi Brothers Media Corporation, Shanghai Film Group, Home Media & Entertainment Fund, Tencent Video and Beijing Cultural Assets Chinese Film and Television Fund. It is the first film to receive financing from the newly-formed Beijing Cultural Assets Chinese Film & Television Fund.
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Dragon Blade, did you see Dragon Blade? Yeah, it's about peace, because a few years ago, I- 'why there's so many war[s] in the Middle East?' I have to make a movie called 'Peace'. So I make Dragon Blade.
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