Action star Jackie Chan managed to find enough time around bailing out his troublesome son to release a new film at the tail end of the Spring Festival boom. But Dragon Blade has been mired in controversy since its premiere last month.
The story is set 2,000 years ago during the Han Dynasty under the reign of Han Yuandi. After years of territorial expansion under Han Wudi, General Huo An has settled brought about a friendly peace with China’s western neighbors.
But that peace is shattered when Huo is wronged and sentenced to forced labor at the western end of the empire. There he meets Lucius, a general in the Roman Empire. The two eventually become friends when they uncover a conspiracy between Tiberius, who has eyes on the Roman throne, and Yin Po, Huo’s best friend.
The story is new for the big screen, but it failed to deliver on the humor and kung fu stunts that viewers expect to see when Chan is on the screen.
Of course, Chan can be funny even without kung fu. The bigger complaint was the ludicrous way the film kept beating on the theme of “world peace” during a violent period of history defined by imperial expansion and warlordism. The intense cooperation between Rome and China also flies in the face of historical fact.
In spite of spending 400 million yuan to produce the film, Chan failed to please audiences. It’s similar to his disappointing appearance in The Myth in 2005.
Some viewers said that the film cost so much because it called on A-list Hollywood actors like John Cusack and Adrien Brody.
However, viewers did praise the harmonious visual effect of combining ancient Chinese warriors and Roman centurions on the big screen. Regardless of the quality of the film, the 61-year-old Chan deserves respect for his dedication to film.