Fans of epic Chinese movies about the clash of dynasties, family honour and forbidden love, liberally sprinkled with massive battle scenes, will appreciate much of this film inspired by true events. Set in the late 19th century it stars three of Asia’s top actors – Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro – as three opposing bandits who become blood brothers and then ‘warlords’ intent on bringing peace to their troubled land. In order to do so they must spend years away from home, waging war against a series of different enemies and eventually falling out with each other over ideals and one woman.
Not only does Warlords look stunning but it is also beautifully directed by Peter Ho-Sun Chan, who tackles the love-triangle and battle scenes with equal aplomb. Here, the armies are massive, the battles are massive, and yet the love scenes subtle and low key. The one-time action pin-up, Jet Li, is slowly maturing into an actor of great presence, his looks fading but his stature growing with every movie he makes. If you want two hours of glorious location work, cavalry horses with their eyes bound by their riders’ cloaks as they prepare to enter battle and choreographed swordplay that seems superhuman, then The Warlords offers two hours of seamless entertainment. Dee Pilgrim