Bullet Points: Saving General Yang
One problem that I have with Chinese historical epics is that often times they go way beyond 2 hours long and I find it difficult to follow along with many of the characters and what their names are. this could be my “stupid American” shining through but Saving General Yang thankfully didn’t fall into either of those categories for me. It’s runtime is around 100 minutes and for the amount of children that General Yang has, we only ever hear the names of one or two of them as they’re most often referred to as “5th brother” or “eldest brother”. As cruel as that sounds from a parenting perspective, it helped me immensely as I tried to remember who was who since it seems each of these guys go to the same barber. I think it was a Sport Clips.
Synopsis: The Yang Clan has been helping to protect the Song Dynasty for many years but after a young son of the great General Yang finds himself at odds with a rival clan, the paternal General takes control of the army on the frontlines to help drive out an invading enemy. Soon the General falls prey to an old adversary who has revenge against the Yang Clan on his mind and a showdown between the two very dedicated forces leads to the the sons of the General to make a last-ditch rescue attempt for the wounded Yang.
These were real people: I watch enough Asian films where I should be able to identify some of the actors from this movie but none of them looked familiar to me. The story is also a very famous one from Chinese history but it also didn’t ring a bell to me so this was all new and fresh for me as I watched it. I suppose I would describe the performances as adequate since none of the actors really blew me away. At the same time, I did enjoy the film for its simplicity and straight-forwardness. If you’re looking for a strong female character, the mother is as close as you’ll get because this film is a real sausage fest.
Not that bad of a guy: I can’t tell you what the General for the Khitan Army’s name was but he really hated those Yang boys. It’s true that he was invading their territory with the intent to kill the father and his sons but it was only because his own father was killed at the hand of Yang and his body was never recovered. I’m sorry but I can empathize with the guy here and say that he wasn’t such a bad dude.
Everybody wants a piece of the action: While it is an excellent tagline, it also rings very true for this film. The action is what turned this movie into a fun watch for me. You could watch the international version of Red Cliff if you want a seriously long and kickass historical epic but this film is much shorter and much simpler in the way of characters and their motives. It didn’t waste any time getting to the good stuff and I think any action fan can appreciate that.
The Verdict: If you’re into foreign films and you like you some historical China then you should definitely check out Saving General Yang. It won’t take up your entire evening and it’s probably far more accurate than something like Braveheart or The Patriot. There are some really solid action scenes and a while the characters aren’t great that just means it won’t really effect you much when they start dying off.