Runtime: 110 Mins
What To Expect: God awful film making, with outrageous trolling from Nicolas Cage pushing it up to ‘so bad it’s good’ territory
This is a film that took me several attempts to complete. I don’t if that tells you something or not, but it should. I also believe that it probably correlates with the fact that Chinese distributors pulled the movie hours before its release. It’s a modern Nicolas Cage movie, therefore it is a pile of shit but has the hidden value of Nicolas Cage’s outrageous trolling. It’s a pity though that you have to sit through so much poorly written and poorly plagiarised slop, in the long wait for Cage the comedian to show up. If only someone would edit his scenes out of this movie and upload them to YouTube, that is a video I’d recommend watching. But not this in its entirety.
Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen are two Englishmen (I’m guessing, the accents are South African) who are inexplicably wandering around the far east many centuries ago, as mercenaries. Who gives a shit about why, I guess that was the logic settled upon by the makers of this movie. Anyway, at the start of the movie, Cage appears for 50 seconds or so, then disappears. Then the movie rips off Gladiator, where a dying Asian king leaves the throne to his good son, but the bad son muscles in and sets up the good son. Hayden Christensen must walk the boy sullenly through Asia (I wonder if his expressions were part of the script or if he was harboring overwhelming feelings of ‘man, this film sucks’) to, y’know, clear his name and shit.
And now, a word on terrible action sequences.
The camera is held at an angle of 40 degrees as opposed to flat, then shaken violently. The footage recorded by this amateur sloppiness is then edited brutally and completely incoherently, making it a downright bewildering assault on the senses to watch. Migraine sufferers should especially avoid. This is sad since the stunt choreographers involved obviously spent days and probably even weeks creating these scenes. So imagine how they feel when finally ‘seeing’ their work on screen? Sometimes the camera shaking and unfathomable editing are so terrible that you basically have to listen to discern what is happening. For instance when Christensen stabbed a man at one point, the camera operator is so out of control we’re looking at something off in the distance. How can this shit be acceptable in any form?
The only good thing about this movie, other than Nicolas Cage’s trolling – the production values and cinematography. It’s good that the Chinese still take this kind of thing seriously in their movies, it looks like we can expect the same in Jackie Chan’s Dragon Blade. The castles, king’s quarters and so forth actually sometimes rival a movie it heavily borrows from (Gladiator). Finally though, let’s talk about Nicolas Cage and his extended cameo (yes, another one of those). A lot of his screen time is like that scene from Dumb & Dumber where Carey dresses up as a medieval knight, every time Cage opened his mouth in this ‘historical thriller’, I started laughing. It actually makes the third act of this hot garbage an effective comedy.
But really, at 110 mins are you really going to sit through a movie as bad as this, just to see Cage winking at the camera? I dunno, maybe you should. Sometimes, I think the other actors had a hard time keeping a straight face…