Saving General Yang (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
December 9, 2013 by Dennis Amith
“Saving General Yang” is a popcorn action film featuring awesome fight choreography, wonderful costume design but also a simplistic story based on Chinese folklore about the Yang family. If you love Chinese action films, you’ll enjoy “Saving General Yang”!
© 2013 Pegasus Motion Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Saving General Yang
FILM RELEASE: 2013
DURATION: 107 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Mandarin and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Mandarin and English Dolby Digital 2.0, Subtitles: English, Spanish and French
COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment
RATED: Not Rated
Release Date: December 10, 2013
Directed by Ronny Yu
Written by Kat Lo, Edmond Wong, Ronny Yu
Executive Producer: Bak-Ming Wong
Music by Kenji Kawai
Cinematography by Chi Ying chan
Edited by Drew Thompson
Production Design by Kenneth Mak
Ady An as Princess Chai
Adam Cheng as General Yang
Ekin Cheng as Yang’s Yang Yan Ping (eldest son)
Yu Bo as Yang Yan Ting (second son)
Vic Choi as Yang Yan An (third son)
Li Chen as Yang Yan Hui (fourth son)
Raymond Lam as Yang Yan De (fifth son)
Wu Chun as Yang Yan Zhao (Sixth son)
Fu Xin Bo as Yang Yan Si (youngest son)
Fan Xu as General Yang’s wife
Shao Bing as Yeu Yuan
Bryan Leung as Pan Renmei
Chen Zihui as Huyan Zan
Li Qian as Yang Paifeng
Northeast China, early Northern Song dynasty, AD 986. The Khitan army takes its revenge for a past massacre, abducting General Yang Ye (Adam Cheng) and leaving his wife and seven sons to rescue him – and fall into their deadly trap. Led by the first son (Ekin Cheng), the seven – two of whom have never seen combat – set out with a small band of fighters to face an army of thousands, brave the treacherous Wolf Mountain, face the nemesis of their shared history, and find the way back alive – all to bring their father home.
The story of the Yang Family have been featured in Chinese folklore, plays, novels, musicals, TV series and adapted into several films.
It’s a story that continues to captivate not just people in China but those who have an interest in Chinese folklore. May it be through classic Shaw Brothers films such as 70’s Shaw Bros. film “The 14 Amazons” or its 2011 remake “Legendary Amazons” or the 1984 film “Generals of the Yang Family”, people are captivated by the story of the Yang family.
So beloved that in China, there are temples and historical locations that are dedicated or inspired by the Yang family.
And while a few of the Yang’s are featured in historical record, whether or not the seven brothers of the Yang family truly existed is unknown.
In 2013, film Ronny Yu (“Fearless”, “Bride of Chucky”, “Freddy vs. Jason”, “Formula 51”) wanted to create a war epic featuring sword fighting that would look awesome and cool on the big screen, but somehow making it seem a bit more realistic than over-the-top.
And now, “Saving General Yang” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment in Dec. 2013.
The film is set during the Song Dynasty and begins with brothers Yang Yan Zhao (portrayed by Wu Chun) and another brother about to be whipped as punishment.
We are taken through a flashback of how Yang Zan Zhao and his girlfriend Princess Chai (portrayed by Ady An) are laying and looking into the clouds, dreaming that one day they will be married and have children.
When Yang Zhan Zhao meets with his father, General Yang (portrayed by Adam Cheng), he is told that there will be a fight for Princess Chai’s hand in marriage. Yang Zhan Zhao wants to take part in the fight as he is in love with Princess Chai, but his father refuses him to take place in the fight because the Emperor’s brother is to win and also, it should end the warring between the Yang family and the Renmei family as they must unite to fight against the Khitan people.
But because Yang Zhan Zhao loves Princess Chai so much, he enlists in the fight without his father’s consent and begins fighting the son of Song General Pan Renmei. During the fight, as Yang Zhan Zhao is about to lose the fight, one of his brothers gets involved in the fight and in the process, the son of Renmei slips and lands his neck on a wooden fence which breaks his neck and kills him instantly.
As General Yang tries to hope that his sons will not be executed, which Pan Renmei’s wife is wanting, they are punished by receiving 30 lashes each.
But the peace of the city is interrupted when the Khitan burns one of the towers owned by the Emperor. He names Song General Pan Renmei as the General to be responsible of sending the troops to fight the Khitan while General Yang is assigned to lead the troops on the front lines to fight against the Khitan, who send Yelu Yuan (portrayed by Shao Bing) and his deadly fighters to kill General Yang.
But it’s a personal issue for Yelu as he endured seeing his mother suffering due to the Yang’s killing his father, now he wants to kill all General Yang’s sons and make their mother suffer 100 times worst than what his mother endured.
As General Yang fights in battle and is expecting for the reinforcements from Song General Pan Renmei to come, no reinforcement has come to aid them and General Yang’s army is wiped out and for the General, he is barely surviving.
His wife has a vision of bad things to come and so she sends out her seven sons to go rescue their father who is still alive.
But what his sons, the seven generals don’t know is that all seven brothers showing up is all part of Yelu Yuans’ plan to kill the Yang men.
Will the Yang family be prepared for this fight against the Khitan, especially Yelu and his men?
“Saving General Yang” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Picture quality is fantastic as closeups really show the skin pores, the sweat and grime/blood on the characters. The CG portion of the film actually look very good and the balance between CG and reality shots are nicely done. Colors are vibrant outdoors, skin tones are natural, detail is also fantastic and I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding during my viewing of the film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Saving General Yang” is presented in Mandarin and English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Mandarin and English Dolby Digital 2.0. Dialogue is crystal clear as with Kenji Kawai’s musical score. Because the sheer amount of action, the sounds may it be the horses galloping, bombs blowing up, big huge boulders crashing into cities, steel swords against steel or shields. The soundtrack is quite immersive and there is a good use of LFE as well. An impressive lossless soundtrack!
Subtitles are in English, Spanish and French.
“Saving General Yang” comes with the following special features:
- Making Of – (8:58) Featuring the “Making Of” behind-the scenes on the set of “Saving General Yang” and how the film featured real weapons and a grueling fight training schedule and trying to make battle scenes look authentic on the big screen.
- Interviews – (1:34:12) Featuring interviews with director Ronny Yu, actors Adam Cheng, Ekin Cheng, Yu Bo, Vic Choi, Li Chen, Raymond Lam, Wu Chun, and Fu Xin bo.
“Saving General Yang” comes with a slipcover.
“Saving General Yang” is another film adaptation based on the General Yang family folklore.
A popcorn action film featuring awesome sword fighting scenes, for those who are familiar with the story of the Yang Family will know already how this film is going to end.
While a tragic film, about family and also betrayal, the storyline is rather simplistic as the brothers main goal is to bring their father back home to their mother, dead or alive. But the majority of the film is about how each of these brothers are to survive and how many will end up living by the end of their fight against Yelu Yuan.
There are no martial arts in the sense you will see people flying in the air like some martial arts epics. It’s pretty much sword battles as the Yang family must fight against an army of people, especially Yelu Yuan, a cold individual who wants to make the Yang family, most importantly their mother, suffer after finding out that her husband and sons will all be murdered by him and thus he will achieve his goal to make the Yang mother suffer for eternity. As revenge for General Yang doing the same to his family, and putting his mother through excruciating sadness and pain.
What does work for this film is the fact that it features fantastic costume design, also great use of fight choreography as the seven Generals must fight with their sword (or bow and arrow) and survive the onslaught. And while, the film incorporates important scenes that were featured in the original storyline, especially in regards to General Yang and the stone tablet and also what happens to the seventh brother.
But for the most part, “Saving General Yang” is more or less a fight for survival. Because the storyline is already well-known and what happens is not going to be a big surprise for those familiar with the General Yang Family stories, for those not familiar will enjoy this action film and will see it more as a popcorn action film and nothing more. In fact, the storyline seemed more of what I am used to playing on a “Dynasty Warriors” video game. The storyline is simple and the film is so much about the action that you don’t really worry so much about the action or dialogue.
As for the Blu-ray, the picture quality is fantastic. Closeups show skin pores, sweat beads, grime, blood, etc. The detail and clarity is amazing for this film. As for lossless audio, it’s also an immersive action-based soundtrack as everything from horse stomps, arrows flying through the air and other fascinating forms of action which include gas-based explosions to huge boulders being thrown towards villages. And as for special features, fortunately you get over an hour and half of interviews and a short making of featurette.
Overall, “Saving General Yang” is a popcorn action film featuring awesome fight choreography, wonderful costume design but also a simplistic story based on Chinese folklore about the Yang family. If you love Chinese action films, you’ll enjoy “Saving General Yang”!
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