“God of War” is a fascinating, action-packed film with wonderful costume design, well-planned war scenes and showcasing a part of history during the Ming Dynasty but also to showcase a few of China’s well-known heroes who fought valiantly against these pirates. But it’s more for the fans of action films and not for those who are looking for a deep storyline.
TITLE: God of War
FILM RELEASE: 2017
DURATION: 129 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 widescreen), Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: October 17, 2017
Directed by Gordon Chan
Written by Frankie Tam, Maria Wong, MengZhang Wu
Produced by Gordon Chan, Paul Cheng
Associate Producer: Hing-Ka Chan, Shirley Lau
Music: Shigeru Umebayashi
Cinematography: Takuro Ishizaka
Edited by Ki-Hop chan
Art Direction by Alfred Yau
Costume Deisgn by Emi Wada
Wenzhuo Zhao as General Qi Jiguang
Sammo Kam-Bo Hung as General Yu Dayou
Yasuaki Kurata as Commander Kumasawa
Regina Wan as Lady Qi
Keisuke Koide as Lord Yamagawa
Timmy Hung as Chen Dacheng
Michael Tong as Lou Nan
Yue Wu as Yang Chao
During the 16th century, pirates rule the Chinese coastline, pillaging the small villages and terrorizing the citizens. When maverick leader Commander Yu (martial arts legend Sammo Hung) enlists the help of a sharp young general (Vincent Zhao), they devise a plan to defeat the pirates. A violent clash of wit and weapons will decide who will rule the land in this sweeping historical epic from veteran action director Gordon Chan.
In China, Gordon Chan has a long career of films which he has written, directed and produced.
Known for popular films such as “Fist of Legend” starring Jet Li, “Thunderbolt” starring Jackie Chan and “Painted Skin” starring Donnie Yen, Chan has also directed numerous films such as “Beast Cops”, “2000 AD”, “Painted Skin”, “The King of Fighters” and many more.
Chan’s latest film is the 2017 Chinese historic war action film titled “God of War”, a film inspired by the history, especially around Qi Jiguang, a military general during the Ming Dynasty wo hled the defense of coastal regions against wokou pirate activities in the 16th century. Regarded as a hero in Chinese culture, Qi is also known for writing military manuals Jixiao Xinshi and the Record of Military Training based on his experience as an educator and defensive planner in the Ming military forces.
But during the Ming Dynasty, there was a lot of corruption and many Chinese officials actually had relations with the pirates and benefited from piracy.
The film begins with the Chinese trying to rid of the Japanese samurai warriors turned pirates who teamed up with Ronin to fight against approaching Chinese armies. And because the Japanese had artillery, the Chinese forces were vulnerable.
While Chinese General Yu Daiyou (portrayed by Sammo Hung) was a prominent figure, he was unable to defeat the Japanese pirates, so their leader wants to infuse new blood. So, he must team up with General Qi Jiguang (portrayed by Vincent Zhao), who will now be the new leader and together they would come up with strategies to face and defeat the pirates.
But General Qi Jiguang knows that he does have the weaponry nor the military to defeat the Japanese pirates, so he asks his leader to allow him to recruit and train a new army.
Meanwhile, Commander Kumasawa (portrayed by Yasuaki Kurata) has allied with ronin who just want women and gold. Unruly and disrespectful these ronin are, samurai Lord Yamagawa has a problem with how these Ronin behave and treat women and behave like savages.
But Commander Kumasawa reminds them that as pirates, their mission is to help the Daimyo become more powerful and acquire weapons to make Japan even more powerful. But Yamagawa is reminded that they need the Ronin to fight the battle and as part of the Matsura Clan they must defeat the Ming Court.
With the odds against them and not having the defenses to withstand the weapons of the Japanese, General Qi Jiguang requests to train and grow his army and to make his soldier’s prepared against the attack from the Japanese pirates. But can he improve defenses and most of all, he can draft miners and farmers to fight against the pirates?
“God of War” is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9). Picture quality is fantastic, close ups show great detail, especially of the many soldiers in armor. There are no major artifacts during my viewing of the film, nor banding issues. If anything, colors are cool and the film looks great in HD!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“God of War” is presented in Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Dialogue and music is crystal clear, as with action sequences which utilize the surround channels quite well.
Subtitles are in English.
“God of War ” comes with a “making of” featurette and a theatrical trailer.
I have watched many films about China vs. Japan, especially during the period of World War I and World War II, but one part of history that I’m not quite aware of in history is of Japanese samurai and ronin that were involved in wokou piracy in order to destabilize the Ming Court and also to purchase more weaponry to make their Daimyo and Japan more powerful.
Because this was a collaboration between Chinese and Japanese actors including music composition by Japanese composer Shigeru Umebayashi (“House of Flying Daggers”, “2046”, “In the Mood for Love”), it had a different vibe, as many anti-Japanese films tend to have an anti-Japanese sentiment, but this film goes to show a perspective of both sides.
On the Chinese side, General Qi Jiguang had challenges of trying to get the necessary forces to grow and also train to fight against the pirates as moral was low and they were literally outpowered. He pleaded but Commander Hu wouldn’t allow it until someone reported his commanders misdeeds, allowing him to grow his force but losing a promotion.
The film does go into how both Yu Dayou (portrayed by Sammo Hung) and Qi Jiguang portrayed by Wenzhuo Zhao) were put in terrible situations due to the high level of corruption in the Ming government. Despite the sacrifices both men made, Yu Dayou in reality was framed on false charges and imprisoned for not providing any bribes. While Qi Jiguang was slandered that he colluded with the pirates.
In the film, Qi Jiguang was reinstated but unfortunately, Yu Dayou was not given the merit and in the reality, died of frustration. But in the film, Yu Dayou was more pleased that Qi Jiguang would lead and continue the battle against the pirates.
The film also featured Qi Jiguang and his relationship with his wife Lady Qi (portrayed by Regina Wan), wanting to be there for her husband and be there in battle alongside with him. Not strong enough to tell his wife “no” and even his own soldiers admonishing him about it.
I wasn’t sure if this was accurate, so I had to do some research on the subject and there are numerous stories but not sure what is fact or fiction.
The film also shows the perspective of the Japanese pirates, samurai and ronin working together to destabilize the Ming Court and terrorize villages and steal weapons. These pirates looked at it as a mission to make Japanese strong and wealthy. But thinking that firearms would be their saving grace, they were unaware that Qi Jiguang would grow his forces but most importantly, figure out forms of defense to protect them from rifle fire.
If anything, the film shows us the battle between forces led by Qi Jiguang against the forces of primary antagonist, Commander Kumasawa. And very cool fighting scenes between both forces leading to its conclusion.
The only problem is that the film just ends with a scene that doesn’t make any sense. I could have ended a minute earlier but I can’t sidestep this final scene and will need to spoil it, but to be perfectly honest, it’s really not a spoiler. Most people who watch it will think it’s an unnecessary addition of a scene to lead into the final credits.
The final scene is something I interpret of how things don’t end well with Qi Jiguang and his wife. If you do research on the history of Qi Jiguang (and I need to add that what I’m going to write about is not on the film but perhaps may help you understand that final scene), you find out that Qi Jiguang was not happy with his wife and had affairs with other concubines. One source that I read is that his friend and colleague wrote that Qi Jiguang was a henpecked husband and his wife was strong-willed and overbearing. Another problem for the couple is that despite giving birth to sons, none of them survived. So, he turned to concubines in order to have one.
He had one, his wife found out and was going to kill him with a sword but when he cried and she felt bad for him, she allowed him to keep one son. But the boy ended up dying and she had enough and she left him, took all her savings and he died soon after.
People may look at Lady Qi to be cruel but considering the circumstance, I saw her as an independent woman that was strong-willed and not so subservient compared to how women were portrayed during that era.
So, that final scene is possibly a reaction of a wife fed up. It wasn’t necessary for the film and most people not familiar with Qi Jiguang and Lady Qi and are watching those final seconds may not understand why it was even added. But it’s part of Chinese history, and a nod to Qi Jiguang and his wife that things didn’t exactly end with a happy ending.
Overall, “God of War” is a fascinating, action-packed film with wonderful costume design, well-planned war scenes and showcasing a part of history during the Ming Dynasty but also to showcase a few of China’s well-known heroes who fought valiantly against these pirates. But it’s more for the fans of action films and not for those who are looking for a deep storyline.