Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Blade of Kings - TONIGHT with Donnie Yen...

Ok. We don't think it's any secret anymore that we have some pretty serious fan adoration for the work and times of Donnie Yen. Seriously. Who doesn't? And, in all honesty, this is what led us to our film for this week, "Blade of Kings"... aka Twins Effect 2; Chin gei bin 2: Fa dou daai jin... or as Charles Sadler (Kelly's husband) called it 1/2 way through the film, "Tonight with Donnie Yen". Yeah, this joke will make sense later on in this review.

So, let's get to the technicalities of this film. Blade of Kings is a 2004 release starring Donnie Yen, Bing Bing Fan, Jaycee Chan (son of Jackie Chan), and... JACKIE CHAN!!!! Seriously! How great is this film going to be, right??? 

It was written by Kin Chung Chan, Suet Lam, Roy Szeto, Peter Tsi and Michelle Tsi, and directed by Patrick Leung (Wu Dang), and Corey Yuen (The Transporter, Legend of the Dragon, Legend, Legend II, and about a bajillion acting roles). A pretty solid group of folks with a pretty good resume behind them. 



The very first thing we see is a monk-looking guy digging an intricately decorated rock out of the
ground. Oooh, mysterious and promising, yes? Credits... epic orchestration... yada yada yada...

Our film opens onto a time in history, and OBVIOUSLY in a parallel universe, where women are in charge and men are entirely subservient. And, not that our film choice was at all influenced out of our frustrations with our respective spouses for pulling late night flicking on the lights business (but we digress), the concept was entertaining to us none-the-less and we clicked play. So, the women run everything and go out into the wilderness to kidnap/capture men, force them into collars with bells on them, sell them in the open market, and refer to them as "Dumb bells". (snirk.. yeah, we laughed at this for the entirety of the movie.)

So within mere minutes of the film starting, we are presented with a largely female populated society. Just ladies in armor and everyday attire everywhere. And, for ONCE it is so nice to not be greeted with copious amounts of derpy females and excessive T&A. The downside? EVERYTHING is decorated in various tints and shades of pink and lavender. And honestly, we resent that the writers/directors presume that if women were in charge we'd made everything purple, pink, and glammy gold. SERIOUSLY! We're more likely to paint everything black & red, and change our names to something like "She Beast of the upper Tundra", or "Thunder Legs the Mighty". (pfftt...) 


So, there is a woman selling men to the highest bidder, some laughable stereotypical female jokes, some wheeling and dealing, and then we see a .2 second flash of Donnie Yen (playing he role of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon... yes, that's his name) clad in black and a cape. Which... uh. Weird. But remember that monk who dug up the rock during the opening credits? He's entirely clumsy, and runs into the den of man-sales, dropping his rock. We've determined that he is the only reason for Donnie's presence here, as he swoops down, frees the enslaved men, scoops up the monk and his decorative rock, and flees. At which point there is an entirely confusing conversation about how the rock (ok, it's a stone tablet I guess) was stolen from the Queen's palace by the monk, and that he will be meeting Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in 3 days to discuss why the heck that matters.

Chaos, chaos, chaos, Star of Rex (what?), rampage.... and ooh, a fight!

Now the slave trader (13th Master) decides to pick a fight with the Bluebird, an apparent badass in black and chain mail. Which was apparently not a good idea, because she gets kicked in the face, and somehow the already not entirely awesome battle quickly devolves into the sissiest girl fight we've ever seen. And when we say "not entirely awesome", we mean OBVIOUSLY the writers/director has never seen a real chick fight. 
HEAVENS TO MURGATROID a chick fight can be as brutal as any Tony Jaa/Quentin Tarantino produced fight scene. However, there's some word exchanging, cabled fighting, and a bit of pouting, and the scene is over. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! Jeeja Yanin can throw down. Rhonda Rousey can tear it up. Is there any need for a sissy fight in a woman dominated world???? (throws hands up in the air..)

Ok. But with the movie... So, the fight is stopped by Red Vulture, Bluebird's partner in crime. After
the fight this enormity of a woman shows up being hauled by a caravan, and NO we don't mean a minivan. She's got a flock of at least 20 men carrying her. She is obviously important and demands that Bluebird find the man she lusts after, or her assets will be frozen, aka "I will take all of your luscious men." To clarify her demand she produces and entirely crappy sketch that pretty much could be anyone. She further clarifies the identity of said man by stating that he works with the side show on the edge of town and that his ears turn bright red if you make eye contact with him. Oh, and he has a smell. Sounds like a keeper.

MMMMMMMmmm... Well. Ok then.
So, we now get thrown to the other side of the fence where the two headhunters are getting their butts reamed by the Queen's mystical right hand henchman... and eunuch. It's sort of like "videos and tanning" or "laundromat and pub", though the exact explanation here is quite unclear. Either way, he pissed off because the two female headhunters didn't find the Star of Rex, or whatever they are calling the male savior these days. And, it is fairly clear that he intends to lay the smack down on them for allowing the monk to escape with the decorative rock tablet thingy.

Of course, to prove his manhood, despite not actually having any, he goes straight to the power hungry, absolutely crazy "Queen of Quite-a-lot", who has subsequently trapped the soul of her sister in a cave. 
"HEY! Nobody puts baby in a cave!"


Ok. For the sake of time, we're going to just wrap up this opening bit here. So, we're 20 minutes in and here's the the lowdown: 

There are two sisters. Sister one is in love and is willing to give up her throne for love, which is in essence forbidden as men are a slave class. Sister two will not hear of it, casts a spell, sleeps with the lover of sister one, causes a subsequent spell trapping the sister in the cave, the jilted sister one chops off the bits of her lover now turned crazy eunuch, and the only thing that can stop her insane hormone rampage is the Star of Rex, the mythical male emperor to be. So, jilted sister one is on a manhunt to find "the one". No, seriously. She's on a hunt to find and destroy the unknown man who will become emperor, but doesn't know he is supposed to become the emperor.

Did you get all that??? 
Let's move on.

So Bluebird heads to the sideshow to find the Star of Rex. The 13th Master heads the same direction to find the cute guy with the red ears, using only the horrible sketch as her guide. However, due to stellar communication the women presume that they are looking for the same guy, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense at all when you really think about it.

So, we see a young, handsome, but ENTIRELY derpy kid (Blockhead) and an entirely adorable kid that looks entirely like a young Jackie Chan (looks up IMBD and whaddayah know! It IS Jackie
Chan's son. That's Charcoal Head.), a bossy, coke bottle glasses older man, some chickens, and the monk, who turns out not to be a monk at all, but a young man named Peachy, dressed in drag, running around stealing people's tablets. They are retelling the story of the two sisters, the Queen and her cave sister when the guards show up to shut down the show and more chaos. And chickens.

During this whole debacle, Bluebird mistakes Charcoal Head as the Star of Rex, and 13th Master thinks Melon Seed is the cute red-eared guy. Red Vulture shows up to make sure that Bluebird is doing her job, but goes a little overboard, killing Peachy, and resulting in a big ole fight with Bluebird (a good one this time!) during which a line is drawn in the sand between the two. Literally.
With a bat'leth stolen from the Star Trek set. But alas, the stolen tablet is not to be found with Peachy, and the ladies are confused. And pissed at each other.


Turns out Peachy handed off the tablet to Charcoal Head, who is a moron, and has no idea what he has in his possession. He plans to sell the tablet, until he realizes that the decorative markings are actually a map. But not really, because it's really a slide puzzle. Yeah, we were confused too. But he recognizes a mountain on the map and decides to strike off in search of the treasure that the map must lead to. Because nobody makes maps that don't lead to treasure. Anyway, this hawk is flying around, sees the map, and somehow notifies Bluebird that he has found her man, via a series of squawks and flaps.

Long story short, Charcoal Head and Melon Seed run off to meet with Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, who is actually elsewhere at the time, trying to track down the missing tablet. Oh the irony. The girls plot to sell the boys as dumbbells after the treasure is found, and then there's a weird rabbit catching scene.
Completely inexplicable mustache
13th Master meets up with the boys sporting an inexplicable mustache, and talks them out of the map, pretending to be CTHD. Bluebird shows up at the same time, also claiming to be CTHD (sans mustache), thus confusing the heck out of everyone. In a clever attempt to fool the men, the ladies quickly team up, pretending that one is CT and the other is HD, and those boys blindly follow them into the wilderness in search of treasure using a slide puzzle as their guide.

Enter Charles, Kelly's husband, joining us 36 minutes into the film:

Charles: "WHAT?"
Kelly: "Exaaactly."

So then Master Blackwood (we met him at the sideshow earlier, the dude with the coke bottle glasses) shows up in the best drag gettup you EVER saw in an attempt to rescue the boys from their slave-masters. But one broken cookie and Donnie Yen later, there is a full apology, and a declaration that the Star of Rex savior dude may be in their midst. Emperor Melon Seed or Supreme Leader Charcoal Head. Yeah, no. But either way, that tablet is somehow going to reveal the savior of all MAN kind and overthrow the evil queen to restore peace and male rule. Which doesn't sound so hot to us, but I digress.

To keep from blowing their cover as CTHD, 13th Master gives Master Blackwood and the real CTHD (that's Donnie Yen, remember) a love potion that has them fully enamored of each other. Eww. Then they escape again with the boys into the night and down a river.

Werewolf? Or rabid Ewok? Discuss.
They reach the banks of the Haunted City, where they are greeted by werewolves and ghosts playing
theramins. Suddenly, we're launched into "Evil Dead: On the Banks of the Yellow River", complete with magical, mystical chipper shredder sand, sucking people into the earth. DEAR GOD! THIS IS NOT CHINA! IT'S FLORIDA! NO, DUNE! NO, TREMORS!!! NO... MONGOLIAN SANDWORMS!!!

Apparently Red Vulture thinks this movie has gone on too long, because she shows up again demanding that they hand the plaque/tablet over to her. But that was obviously a mistake, and the producers had other ideas, because everyone gets sucked into a hole in the ground (they filmed in Florida, I'm telling you), where Red Vulture is probably digested over thousands of years while Bluebird and Charcoal Head apparently didn't taste very good, because they somehow end up on the set of Chud.

No seriously. Insert strange emotional mirror people in an underground lair that far too closely resemble Fraggles, with no explanation whatsoever. The real title of the film suddenly becomes " CHUD: A love story... with Fraggles" But wait, where are the Doozers?? OH NO! CHUD ATE THE
DOOZERS!! Not really, we lost it a bit here, we were bored, and wondering when Donnie Yen would become disenchanted with the drag queen and join us for more fighting to clarify his role in this film.

On the other side of the Haunted Forest, 13th Master and Melon Seed fall out of a tree and into love. "Spock" pipes in from the couch, "This is highly illogical" and Bluebird and Charcoal Head also realize that they've been in love for about the last 20 minutes, then everyone somehow ends up above ground on a very foggy beach that somehow also happens to be exactly where they need to be.

 No seriously, they've come out right smack in front of the hidden palace, just where the mystical slide puzzle needs to be inserted into the massive floppy drive in the front of the mountain. Rrrrrrrrrng... rrrrrng.... Insert disk 2 to continue. The only way they could possibly have known how to operate this massive slot style structure... would be that they watched the opening credits of this film. Clever. Because otherwise, we have no idea how they figured that contraption out. We would have been standing on those steps for hours waiting for a locksmith.

But anyway, they get in, and happen upon a amazingly crappy chamber, which contains stuff, but not treasure. Except for Donnie Yen, and his leather pants. We finally figured out what he's doing in this film... leather pants and cape. Mmmmhm.

Showing any more would cause joyous spontaneous combustion.
 And then Jackie Chan busts out of a stone statue and attacks Donnie Yen. We hope against all hopes that this will result in an epic, though pointless and inexplicable fight scene, but are quickly disappointed by the CG and turn our attention back to Donnie's pants.

Weapons: Check
Flames: Check
Badassery: Check
Note his glow. This means he's "it".
The boys and girls run ahead of the old guys fighting in the crappy chamber and come across some water that is falling up that has Excalibur in the middle of it. Literally. And now we're watching a He-Man meets King Arthur kind of thing, during which we find out that Charcoal Head is the savior of MAN kind, and the boys find out the girls' true motives. Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen abruptly stop fighting when they realize that the Star of Rex has found Excalibur, Jackie turns back into a statue, and Donnie is put in charge of making sure the rest of the movie goes smoothly.

 The next 30 minutes in a nutshell:

(Takes a deep breath, aaaand...)

Bluebird returns to the Empress empty handed. The 13th Master loses everything for Melon Seed. Charcoal Head and the Fraggle People wage war against the Empress. Wereboobs, love prevails, epic battle, bloodshed, more love prevails, rebar beats icicle, icicle beats force, all elements cancel each other out. All get skewered and die in a love/death scene. With the Empress defeated, Charcoal Head declines the throne, gives it to Melon Seed, and runs off with Bluebird to live off the land.

In short, pants.

Leather pants.

And in reality, if we took all of the Donnie Yen bits and assembled them end to end, we would have an epic 6.5 minute film. Instead, we just watched 106 minutes of 'Harruwaaaah???' So if you're in the mood for an extremely complicated plot line with drag queens, wereboobs, mustaches and fraggles, by all means, see this film, please. Otherwise, always read the cast list as a list of ingredients, and if Donnie Yen isn't in the first three people, this is junk food.

In fact, you might be better off just eating a cupcake and browsing Donnie Yen pics on the interwebs. We're gonna go do that now.

~The Mavens

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