Bullet Points: Dragon Blade
I never knew that I wanted to see John Travolta and Nicolas Cage in an action movie together until I saw them in Face/Off. The same could be said for John Cusack and Jackie Chan. Separately, I have enjoyed both of their careers. Jackie Chan is one of the greatest action stars in the history of cinema. His career has spanned several decades, each with at least one instant classic film and about a dozen different death-defying stunts. John Cusack was in Con Air, which makes up for all those shitty rom-coms he has done over the years. Dragon Blade is a bit of stretch for one of these two actors… guess which one?
Synopsis: When corrupt Roman leader Tiberius arrives with a giant army to claim the Silk Road, Huo An and his group of trained warriors teams up with an elite legion of defected Roman soldiers led by General Lucius to maintain the delicate balance of power in the region. To protect his country and his new friends, Huo An gathers the warriors of thirty-six ethnic nations together to fight Tiberius in an incredible epic battle.
- Inspired By What?: The movie starts with some text telling us that a Roman Legion was lost during its invasion of the Parthian Empire. It then says that this movie is inspired by what could have, in a fantasy world, happened to that legion while they were away. I don’t know about you but I’m getting real tired of all the movies who come out and say they’re “inspired by true events” but they’re actually just full of shit!
- Language Barriers: The Romans and the Chinese have almost no language barriers. They are both able to communicate using English, which, DUH!
- I Got Warrants: Huo An (Jackie Chan) and his Silk Road Protection Squad are tasked with doing exactly what is in their title; protecting that delicate-to-the-touch road where all that beautiful trade goes down. It’s only after the squad is seemingly set up that they’re arrested and sent to the awesomely named Wild Geese Gate. It isn’t long before they pretty much run that place and then that guy from Serendipity comes knocking on the door.
- Definitely Not an Ohio Road Crew: The Romans decide to help the Chinese dudes at the Wild Geese Gate rebuild their broken down walls and turn out what has to be the most efficient construction work in history. Every major road in my city is constantly under construction but these guys put together an entire city in a fortnight.
- Enter the Heel: Roman General Tiberius (Adrien Brody) finally shows up with his massive army and threatens to conquer and control the Silk Road. Most of the story comes from how Tiberius poisoned his little brother, causing him to go blind, and then his attempt to catch the fleeing Lucius (Cusack) as he flees with the annoying little guy across the desert. Poisoning a kid is pretty bad but what Tiberius does to the rest of the guys who follow Lucius isn’t much better. Adrien Brody’s overacting is up there with some of all-time greats as he does everything except laugh maniacally when someone dies.
- Jackie Yojimbo: By the end of the film, it’s clear what is going on and why Chan/Cusack and their crew are in the position they’re in. Chan then plays the Yojimbo card and starts playing Tiberius and some of his crew against each other and it works like a charm.
- Battle: Dragon Blade has enough battles to make even your ADHD 10 year old sit still for an hour and forty minutes. Chinese movies are all bout staging epic battles and Dragon Blade is no different than the others. Jackie shares fight scenes with both John Cusack and Adrien Brody, which is a sentence that I never thought I’d type. Chan isn’t exactly a spring chicken anymore but watching him fight against a could of dark haired stuntmen isn’t exactly what I was hoping for. The action scenes are still good, though, and they’re often a great respite from seeing that weird little kid onscreen or hearing another song.
If you can believe that the Romans and the Chinese had a battle of this size then you can definitely enjoy these bonus Bullet Points:
- I think I somehow remember them saying Tiberius has 100,000 men with him. They also say that one Roman legion was missing. A Roman legion consisted of anywhere between 3,000-5,200 men during that time.
- Rome wasn’t built in a day but Wild Geese Gate was fixed in 15.
- I’ve always said that birds make the best kind of weapons in a war.
- “A real hero remains accountable until the end”.