THE Warlords is a very emotional and arresting story about brotherhood
and betrayal, and of sacrifice and survival. The English title sounds dignified
and commanding, but it does not capture the essence of the movie as vividly as
the Chinese title Tou Ming Zhuang ( which means "oath of brotherhood" in
Three men meet under desperate circumstances and decide to take an
oath of brotherhood. In this case, it is an oath taken in blood, hence the men's
affections are very intense. They swear to remain true to one another, as they
would die for one another.
The Warlords opens with the grim aftermath of battle, drawing gruesome
anti-war images. The stark landscape is bleak. There is blood, sweat and tears
and the film is grimy and gritty throughout.
Apart from his gripping and powerful storytelling, director Peter Chan (
Perhaps Love ) has assembled a stellar cast and crew. Thanks to action
choreographer Ching Siu Tung, the battle scenes are spectacular.
The charismatic leading men -- anguished Jet Li, emotional Andy Lau and
conflicted Takeshi Kaneshiro -- deliver their most
riveting portrayals yet. Their unbridled
passions drive a sequence of events that lead to the inevitable traffic
resolution. Mainland Chinese director-actress Xu Jinglei holds her own in a role
that leads to the unraveling of the brotherhood.