For decades now the American market has dominated the film industry. Not only is it the home of the biggest studios, the largest investment and big-named stars, it also has the largest Box Office. With the ‘opening-up’ of China that looks likely to change over the coming years. The Middle Kingdom has already overtaken the UK to move into second place and the Chinese film industry is becoming increasingly powerful.
Not content with showcasing home grown talent, there’s now the curious phenomena of Western stars appearing in Asian movies. You may well have missed the Korean film Snowpiercer starring Chris Evans, Tilda Swnton and John Hurt or Christian Bale in The Flowers of War as neither obtained a full theatrical release in the UK. However, both were highly successful in their domestic markets. Dragon Blade is out in cinemas tomorrow, and with John Cusack and Adrian Brody starring it continues this growing trend.
It’s 50BC and The Silk Road is protected by a group of men lead by Huo An (Jackie Chan). The squad is framed and arrested then put to work rebuilding Wild Geese Gate. When a Roman Legion arrive fleeing the treacherous Tiberius (Brody), Huo becomes friends with their leader Lucius (Cusack). Lucius is sheltering Tiberius’ young brother from his wrath, and when Tiberius arrives with a huge army Huo must unite all the peoples of the Silk Road an overcome all odds.
Dragon Blade takes some getting used to if you’re not familiar with Chinese or Hong Kong cinema. The action is great and Chan choreographs some of the best fight scenes you’ll see this year. It’s also had a lot of money spent on it so it looks superb, using large sets and numerous extras to give it an authentic feel, augmented by some good CGI. Chan is great but Cusack and Broady seem to struggle balancing performances which veer between overly serious as playing it for laughs. Indeed, Dragon Blade is at its best when it follows Chan, but the odd editing and melodrama, which is synonymous to Chinese productions, may grate on some.
Dragon Blade is out in cinemas today.