Dragon Blade movie full length review - Good action, bad film
In every area, this is an extremely bad film, except when it comes to the action and the battles. This is the only good thing about the film. Without Jackie Chan, this film wouldn't get 4/10 from me.
So if you want to kill some time, by watching some good fight choreography, as well as excellent combat scenes involving Romans, Huns, Indians and Chinese (which I should note: some details and tactics were well-researched), then go ahead and watch this film. I'd advise to skip ahead when it starts getting boring. You won't miss much.
The story is not too bad as others say, but the way the plot progresses through the film really ruins it. It could have been a much more compelling film, were it not for the poor storytelling and all the unnecessary fluff scenes. It's clear that the director lacked any sort of vision on what kind of film he wanted to make. At times it has a childish and naive attitude, almost as if they wanted to show a fairy tale, and at other times it's brutal and vicious, as if they wanted to shock their audience. Other movies like Hero (2002) can strike a good balance between the two tones, but the director here is too incompetent to manage it.
This is also evident in the editing, which is extremely amateurish to say the least. Youtube videos have better editing than this film. I caught myself wondering if the DVD was scratched or if the choppy movements were put there on purpose. It's certainly annoying. Not to mention the poorly-put together CGI. Especially when it comes to weather, it's like watching a cutscene from a 2000s video game.
The non-combat scenes also lack any sort of directional skill. The extras rush in the scene as if they are school children participating in a musical. The main actors try to salvage the film, and then the plot jumps ahead with no cohesion, ruining everything. Scenes don't transition smoothly. It's like reading a book, where each chapter was written by a different author, who never read what the other authors wrote. The screenplay doesn't help either. Most lines seem very artificial and the way characters react to them makes them appear too simple-minded and one-dimensional.
I don't usually talk about sound, other than music, but holy crap sound is bad in this film. The music is extremely annoying and over-the-top dramatic (during combat it's not so bad, but it doesn't even reach average when it comes to putting the audience in the right mood). Then you come at stuff like rocks falling, wind blowing, swords clashing or flesh ripping and it's incredibly bad sound design. It feels like the sound editor's last job was in the 70s. Sometimes it's not synced properly to what is happening on screen, other times it just sounds completely fake.
Finally, let's talk about what this has to offer as art: Very little. It's message is not subtle at all. Every 2 seconds it hammers it at you: "Let's live in peace, we can all co-exist". It's not a bad message, but come on, what happened to making your audience think? Is that too advanced stuff for you Dragon Blade? Meanwhile, there's a sort of subplot going on in the current era (not a spoiler). The film starts in 2015, where some archaeologists (?), who work for a corporation (?) find a Roman city in China and then use a satellite to make a 3D holographic 1:1 scale model on site within seconds. Then stare at it for a while, and then decide not to tell anyone about it, because it's a beautiful story and they don't want the people they work for to sell it to museums. I have no idea where that thing was going, but I'm guessing it was trying to give us the feeling that it was a true story, which failed the moment a satellite in orbit send laser beams down to Earth and made a hologram of a whole city on the ruins of said city within seconds, including inscriptions on buildings, but somehow no one will be able to find out.
Daniel Lee, please don't make any more films, until you actually learn how to make films.