14 Blades (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
September 6, 2014 by Dennis Amith
“14 Blades” is an action film that many Donnie Yen fans have waited for a release in the United States. A film that is more about the action than a focus on its characters or storyline, if you love Chinese action films with excessive wirework, “14 Blades” is a film that will no doubt entertain you.
TITLE: 14 Blades
TELEFILM RELEASE: 2010
DURATION: 113 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio), Mandarin Chinese DTS-HD MA 5.1 with English Subtitles
COMPANY: Anchor Bay Entertainment
RATED: R (Violence and Bloody Images)
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Directed by Daniel Lee
Original Story by Daniel Lee
Written by Daniel Lee, Abe Kwong, Tin Shu Make, Ho Leung Lau
Produced by Xiang Dong, Zhang He-Yun, Zhang Hong, Si Jian-Jun, Zhao Ping, Xu Ping-An, Wang Qi-Shun, Tianyun Wang, Cui Xiao-Wen
Executive Producer: Wang Fang, Jun Gao, Zhiyuan Liu, Xubqin Long, Wang Mao-Liang, Huang Qun-Fei, Zhong-lun Ren, Susanna Tsang, Zhanliang Wang, Tian Xiao-Ying
Associate Producer: Wen Xia Fu, Abe Kwong, Fan Yan-Mei, Jing Ye
Co-Producer: Grace Tang Yi-Lin
Music by Henry Lai
Cinematography by Tony Cheung
Edited by Ka-Fai Cheung, Man To Tang
Production Designer: Raymond Kwok, Daniel Lee
Art Direction by Cyrus Ho, Raymond Kwok, Daniel Lee
Costume Design by Petra Kwok, Ji-qing Li, Kwan Kit Mok, Ming-ha Wong
Donnie Yen as General Qinlong
Wei Zhao as Qiao Hua
Chun Wu as Judge of the Desert
Kate Tsui as Tuo Tuo
Yuwu Qi as Xuan Wu
Ma Wu as Qiao Yun
Kar-Ying Law as Jia Jingzhong
Xiang Dong Xu as Xiahou
Chen Zhi Hui as Bai Hu
Sammo Hung Kam-Bo as Prince Qing
Damin Lau as Zhao Shenyan
Qinglong (Action icon Donnie Yen) is a legendary royal guard trained in a clandestine form of combat from childhood in order to devote his life and lethal prowess to the service of the Emperor. When the Imperial Court is taken over by an evil traitor, Jia (Law Kar-Ying), and betrayal lurks at every corner, Qinglong finds himself hunted by those he once trusted. Now as the most wanted man in the land, he must seek out and rally the loyalists to rise against Jia and restore the Emperor to his rightful place!
For Donnie Yen fans, many have waited for his 2010 martial arts film “14 Blades” to receive distribution in the United States.
Directed by Daniel Lee (“Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon”, “White Vengeance”, “Black Mask” and starring popular actor Donnie Yen (“Ip Man”, “Hero”, “Iceman”) and actress/singer Wei Zhao (“Shaolin Soccer”, “Red Cliff”, “Mulan: A Rise of a Warrior”), Anchor Bay has released “14 Blades” on Blu-ray and DVD.
“14 Blades” begins with introducing viewers of what is taking place during the late Ming Dynasty as the Imperial court is besieged with corruption. To help become the eyes and punishers of the emperor, the imperial military secret police known as Jinyiwei was created.
Street orphans were trained under a strict totalitarian regime and the Jinyiwei overruled judicial proceedings in prosecutions and can arrest, interrogate and punish anyone, including royalty and the relatives of royalty. So, they were feared.
Among the Jinyiwei, one person that is deemed the top of the guard receives the name Qinlong and are granted a special weapon known as the “14 blades”. Eight which are marked for interrogation, six used for execution.
The film begins with the introduction to Prince Qing (portrayed by Sammo Hung) and how he had his legs cutoff for trying to revolt against his uncle (the emperor). And his final order is to have his adoptive daughter and assassin, Tuo Tuo (portrayed by Kate Tsui) steal a seal.
Meanwhile, the current Qinglong (portrayed by Donnie Yen) and several members of the Jinyiwei are summoned to reclaim a box under the supposed secret orders of the Emperor from Imperial Councilor Zhao Shenyan, who is accused of trying to revolt against the kingdom.
As Qinglong and his men try to take the imperial seal from the Imperial Councilor, Zhao Shenyan tells him that he would never let the seal get in the hands of someone corrupt.
Immediately, they are attacked and Qinlong’s men are killed by an unknown assailant.
Qinlong watches as two of his men are taken captive and are to be tortured by one of their own, Commander Xuan Wu (portrayed by Yuwu Qi), who has been working with corrupt officials.
Realizing that he has been used by the corrupt officials, he manages to escape by seeking shelter with Qiao Hua (portrayed by Wei Zhao) and her father, paying them if they can escort him to the border, as he is being accused for the crimes against the Jinyiwei.
Meanwhile, the Jinyiwei led by Commander Xuan Wu are sent to kill Qinlong and the assassin Tuo Tuo is also after him for the seal.
Knowing that there is nothing but peril that lies ahead, Qinlong must ensure the seal gets into the hands of the Emperor. But will he succeed?
“14 Blades” is presented in 1080p High Definition. It’s important to note that this film was released back in 2010 and the film is quite sharp. Closeups show amazing detail, especially the face of Qinlong and other characters but there are moments of halo-ing, but the overall picture quality appears to have been sharpened intentionally to give the film it’s own look and style.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“14 Blades” is presented in Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 with subtitles in English SDH and Spanish.
The lossless soundtrack benefits from its action scenes. While dialogue and music is crystal clear, there are a lot of special effects and sound effects that go hand-in-hand from blades clanging or being shot through a person’s body, boulders crashing, fist fights (or chicken bone hitting its mark) and more.
“14 Blades” does not come with any special features.
When it comes to Chinese cinema, there are not many films that touch upon the “jinyiwei” and while “14 Blades” has its moment of fictional fight scenes and weaponry, the film is quite fascinating and also exciting as an action film.
You have two of the top stars from China, Donnie Yen and Wei Zhao are very popular and considering they are the headlining cast, ensured the film had many audiences coming out to see the film. Both have great chemistry when they are onscreen together but this is a film more about the action and less about a cohesive storyline.
Having done well at the box office in China and Hong Kong, while receiving positive reviews in Asia, the action scenes are furious, the fight scenes are entertaining but the film relies more on its action and thus becomes more of a popcorn action film with an entertaining storyline that never becomes too deep.
While action fans in America clamoring for more Donnie Yen or action films from China/Hong Kong in general, “14 Blades” is a film that will no doubt entertain action fans, but for those looking for anything deeper in storyline may feel the film is overly banal, too long and a film that tries to incorporate too much for its own good.
As for the Blu-ray release, the film does showcase amazing detail on Blu-ray but the film is sharp, while its lossless soundtrack is no doubt active, there are no special features included.
Overall, “14 Blades” is an action film that many Donnie Yen fans have waited for a release in the United States. A film that is more about the action than a focus on its characters or storyline, if you love Chinese action films with excessive wirework, “14 Blades” is a film that will no doubt entertain you.
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