Movie Review: Fourteen Blades
The story of the 14 Blades. I would dare say this movie is one of those really swoosh, swash and a LOT of swordplay with Donnie Yen as Qinglong an imperial guard, Zhao Wei as Qiaohua a poor man's daughter who becomes a heroine and Wu Chun as "Judge of the Sands". In the story, the Chinese empire has an incompetent emperor, his group of "samurai" called the Jinyiwei are tasked with fourteen blades each with a different task (and the last blade is for hara-kiri!) and Prince Qing (Sammo Hung) an exiled noble as well as his adoptive daughter the beautiful witch Tuotuo (Kate Tsui). This is one of Daniel Lee's masterpieces that I would recommend and as you read through, you'll see why. The Jinyiwei are like the Japanese samurai. They are trained from childhood, they are tasked to protect the imperial courts and should they fail their mission, get the fourteenth blade and KILL themselves. The first thirteen blades have their own purposes like torture, defense, interrogation but the film doesn't really show all these swords. But one thing is for sure, the Jinyiwei might be a challenge to Imperial Japan.
I do find the whole setting to be pretty much a Chinese sword and sorcery movie. So the Jinyiwei are tasked to find the Imperial Seal lest the land fall into worse hands than the current emperor. I do find the whole system kind of brutal with how they contain criminals yet because they are dangerous, they have to be locked up. Tuotuo of course seeks to take over the place, she's one creepy witch and bad woman. And then the beautiful Qiaohua who has an incompetent father always tries to marry her off to a rich man, only to discover she'll have a heartbroken romance later with Qinglong. And what really amazes me are all the martial arts involved and just hwo Tuotuo can be so wicked she's really a bitch. Also, it does get very bad when Qinglong is betrayed by his partner Jingzhong (Law Kar-Ying) to which adds to the drama of this movie. Jingzhong is his fellow Jinyiwei but a very corrupt one who seeks to legitimize Prince Qing's actions.
It does get a little more interesting as the search goes on and the Judge of the Sands appear and shows he's a bandit,yes but a bandit who's a jerk with a heart of gold with his band of merry men to help Qinglong. I did love that inn fight scene where Qiao Hua was supposedly to return to her fiance (who she does not love) and she was with Qinglong. The fight scene between Qing Long and Judge of the Sands is freaking awesome. Wow, I just thought that Wu Chun here could have acted as Hwoarang in a Tekken film but screw you Hollywood! Now back to this story, so there's that standard travel across the Gobi desert and the wicked witch, is always aiming to take over the throne. And what is sad is that the wicked witch Tuotuo does have two major victories in this whole awesome film.
What are these major victories? Tuotuo manages to KILL the skilled bandit Judge of the Sands, really I felt bad for him because he was so freaking awesome with all that swordplay. But her second victory was also her last, it was also a loss. So the Imperial Seal is safe in the hands of the heroine Qiaohua who is tasked to deliver it. So she does a few moves as a sidekick but she's the sole survivor. What is so OUUUUCH was that in order for Tuotuo to die, our hero Qinglong had to sacrifice himself. He held her tight, fired the harpoon which KILLED both of them. It's a pretty brutal scene, just really not your average movie for children. But at least Qinglong's death wasn't in vain as eventually the rebellion got suppressed behind the scenes, Qiaohua manages to fight for women's rights and she becomes an officer herself in the Imperial Court. So Prince Qing is finally caught, arrested and presumably arrested so this bittersweet ending really shows a realistic war story.
My rating? 9/10.