Friday, April 1, 2016

Film Review: 14 Blades (2010)

14 Blades (Review)
China/2010
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"Due to its lack of risk and originality, I fear this is a film I'll forget within the next week."

Quinlong (Donnie Yen) of the Jinyiwei is hurled into a plot to overthrow the government by deceitful conspirators, which leaves him wounded and on the run...

14 Blades is a fairly generic wuxia action film. Once again, we find ourselves with the Jinyiwei, the government's all-powerful secret police. As the leader of the Jinyiwei, Quinlong is given a special box with 14 blades, each serving its own purpose – 14 Blades, you know, like the title? Anyway, Quinlong is deceived by a group of conspirators, which include an exiled prince, and he's left wounded and on the run. His comrades have also suffered violent deaths. Quinlong sets out to save the empire by retrieving the imperial seal, which he was forced to steal. Of course, he'll run into some talented adversaries, each with their own skill set, and he'll have the aid of Qiao Hua (Zhao Wei), his escort's daughter. It all leads to a predictable ending. At least the final fight was good.


14 Blades is a decent film. The first issue comes from the very beginning. Off the bat, the film drowns you with information. It explains everything to you within a handful of minutes and it comes off as sloppy with too much exposition. Perhaps it was because I do not speak the language, but it also felt occasionally convoluted. There are too many characters with little background filling the screen. Other than that, the only other significant flaw in 14 Blades is, well, it's cliches. I feel like I've seen this film at least a handful of times in the past year or so. Sure, I watch hundreds of films per year, but it just seems like this plot is too familiar. I remember Brotherhood of Blades sharing a similar plot, too. The action is this film's saving grace. The romance between Quinlong and Qiao, albeit underdeveloped, was also decent.

The acting was good. Donnie Yen does what Donnie Yen does best – fast and fluid fight scenes. This time, he's performing with a pinch of arrogance in his character. He's done it before and he does it well. Zhao Wei is great in this film, too, conveying the proper emotion. The supporting cast is also strong. The film looks good. I liked the costume and set design. The special effects in this film stick out like a sore thumb, though. It looks like it was supposed to be in 3D. The film is written and directed by Daniel Lee. Daniel Lee knows how to craft great action scenes with engaging camerawork. The writing isn't half-bad, either. It just feels too standard and safe to leave a lasting impression. Lee did not take any chances with this film.

Overall, 14 Blades is a decent wuxia action movie. The story is something we've seen a million times before. However, thanks to the action, the direction, and some strong performances, 14 Blades still offers some much needed entertainment. Due to its lack of risk and originality, I fear this is a film I'll forget within the next week. It doesn't leave an impact. However, it is worth watching if you need to kill some time and if you're a fan of Donnie Yen.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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