Directed by Daniel Lee, Dragon Blade is a fine example of the materialization of the growing motion picture market in China. The industry is so dominate in Asia that Western stars arrive on the scene in Chinese productions. Like Dragon Blade, the movies are cultural dramas on a grand-scaled of historical epics. Lee’s movie has done well as a moneymaker, gaining over $120 million in the China market. The storyline is unique and pleasurable with Jackie Chan, John Cusack, and Adrien Brody. Cusack and Brody appear out of place in the empire of men swinging swords and wearing sandals, whereas Chan does a fine job of martial arts and plays a familiar role.
The movie transports the story back to 48 B.C. where Huo An, played by Chan, is a well-intended and compassionate leader of the Silk Road Protection Squad. His squad comes across as a dedicated group. Huo protects and fights altruistically in order to hold harmony for the sanctioned Road.
Thereupon, Huo and his men are framed for gold smuggling and are banished to Wild Goose Gate. They are required to rebuild an entire city in two weeks or be put to death. Clearly an impossible task, something miraculous happens, and they connect up with a lost Roman army. Command by general Lucius, played by Cusack, is a scoundrel. He immediately picks a fight with Huo. After the brawl, they become fast friends with singing, parades, and drinking. Lucius confesses he is trying to avoid being captured by the Romans and has a sick boy, Publius, played by Joey Jozef. The boy is the lawful heir to the Roman throne, and his evil brother, Tiberious, played by Brody, is out to assassinate him. He recently just murdered their father, so we know he is serious. With that in mind, Lucius’ men and other local tribes along with Huo turn the city into a symbol of the peace. Something Huo has desired for most his life.
The visuals are not only majestic but also ambiguous. Seeing Chan in a sword fight with Cusack is conflicting. We are in Asia and here is a Westerner. It is intriguing but unreal for an epic. The $65 million budget availed gigantic spectacles where Lee effectively created a war-torn China during the Han Dynasty.
This is purely fictional with no regard for historical authenticity. True. The Romans and Asians shared commerce and the Silk Road, but nothing more. The many battle scenes are exceptional with the combination of Roman fighting techniques and traditional Chinese martial arts. The movie is invigorating while witnessing the development of a friendship between Huo and Lucius.
Overall, Dragon Blade is a movie worth seeing with Chan outshining his Western co-stars.