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DVD Review: WARRIORS OF HEAVEN AND EARTH

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PHOTOGRAPHY

WARRIORS OF HEAVEN AND EARTH

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 120 minutes, making of featurette, Music Video, previews

STUDIO: COLUMBIA/ SONY

RELEASE DATE: 12-7-2004

ANALYSIS: Whether you decide to call it a Chinese Western or a Chinese Sword Epic, director's He Ping's WARRIORS OF HEAVEN AND EARTH is an entertaining movie with beautiful locations, fantastic action, and a score that combines eastern and western music influences.

WARRIORS OF HEAVEN AND EARTH is about Lieutenant "Butcher" Li (Jiang Wen) who is bound to help protect a caravan that is transporting a monk (played by a woman) and a special cargo. However his past catches up to him when Imperial Agent Lai Xi (Nakai Kiichi) has been ordered to find Li and execute him for disobeying orders (LI and his men disobeyed orders to kill some Turkish children who were prisoners). Lai Xi and Li have a sword fight that ends in a stalemate. They agree to fight again when the caravan reaches the capital. The caravan faces many troubles including Lord An (Wang Xueqi) who has been hired by the Turks to get the caravan's cargo. Lord An has no honor. He is ruthless and he will do anything to get the cargo.

The movie is a Chinese Western in ways. You have Turks and bandits instead of Indians. You have a band of Warriors guarding a caravan against great odds like the Magnificent Seven or The Wild Bunch. The fight sequences are well staged and entertaining. Lots of detail went into this movie including the history of the time that the movie is set in. The great locations adds to the thrill of watching WARRIORS OF HEAVEN AND EARTH that even has a music score that doesn't suck. The score combines Eastern and Western musical influences. It is one of the best music scores I have heard on any Asian movie.

VIDEO/AUDIO: The movie is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture has sharp detail, vibrant colors, and good blacks. Overall, it isn't a bad transfer at all.

Several different language tracks are on this DVD in addition to the original Mandarin 5.1 Dolby Digital. As with any dub into a different language, you will notice differences in the dialogue. I enjoyed the English 51 Dolby Digital track. It is one of the better dubs I have heard. Other language tracks are Portuguese 5.1, Spanish 5.1, and French Dolby surround. You can choose from English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese subtitles.

Dialogue can be heard clearly for the most part, but I think people will get a more out of this DVD if you listen to it in 5.1 surround system. Music and sound effects are dynamic and pack quite a punch.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The Making of "Warriors of Heaven and Earth" is a 25 minute featurette that starts as standard promotional fluff before turning into a great featurette on the making of the movie with interviews with the cast and director, behind the scenes video, information on the film's production, cold weather they had to deal with for part of the production, and a glimpse into the training of the actors for the fight scenes and riding horses.

The other extra besides previews is a pop music video (in the vein of a Chinese Celine Dion), "Warriors Of Peace" by Jolin Tsai.

PREVIEWS: WARRIORS OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, LEGEND OF SURIYOTHAI, RIDING GIANTS, SHE HATE ME, STANDER, TAE GUK GI, TOUCH OF PINK, ZHOU YU'S TRAIN

FINAL ANALYSIS: WARRIORS OF HEAVEN AND EARTH will thrill fans of Chinese action movies. People who are looking for a good action drama (or an alternative to Westerns)

should also rent this DVD. Columbia/ Sony have done a great job with this DVD.

this DVD Review is (c)11-29-2004 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com

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