Review: Saving General Yang (2013)
Posted by Bad Panda on May 27, 2013 (0 Comments)
To be honest I wasn't particularly looking forward to this film after a domestic advertising campaign that made it look more like a Hong Kong Chippendales movie rather than a medieval action war epic. After several failed attempts in this genre of late (furious finger-pointing in the general direction of Legendary Amazons and White Vengeance), and after an inauspicious first ten minutes, I was pleasantly surprised. Saving General Yang runs at a very brisk pace and the action set-pieces complement the quieter moments very well.
The story revolves around an old, partially-true tale of the Yang clan in the Chinese Song dynasty, specifically the part where General Yang (Adam Cheng, in a long-awaited return to movies) is left stranded in no-man's land after being deceived, and his seven sons go into the wolf's lair to try and rescue him. At first glance, it does sound like a mash-up of Saving Private Ryan and Seven Samurai set in medieval China, and some will point to similarities with Kurosawa's masterpiece, but I would add that the original tale actually preceded Seven Samurai (and Magnificent Seven) by several centuries.
Saving General Yang is actually a very well crafted movie, with good attention to detail. It has the look of an expensive movie, and the average CGI effects do not spoil or enhance the action (I did doubt the existence of trebuchets in that time period in China whilst watching this, but it seems that it was historically possible at the time!). The action set-pieces are well constructed and a concerted effort had been made to make the action as realistic as possible. The amount of wire work is kept to a bare minimal (more for saftety during filming rather than to create gravity-defying stunts...this isn't a wushu pic). It's a movie made on an epic scale but it actually tells a simplistic story and idea of loyalty, brotherhood and honour. Overt sentimentality is reigned in to prevent the film from suffering from melodrama. Really, this film could have gone terribly wrong. If you compare this to a thematically similar Legendary Amazons, which had a messy script, poor direction and execution and a huge dose of melodrama for characters you have no empathy for, Saving General Yang is a polar opposite. It's an enjoyable movie, not exactly a classic, but still the best Chinese medieval war film in recent years!
Available on DVD and Blu-Ray Blu-Ray (both region free!).
Starring: Adam Cheng, Xu Fan, Ekin Cheng, Yu Bo, Vic Chou, Li Chen, Raymond Lam, Wu Chun, Fu Xin Bo, Shao Bing, Ady An, Leung Ka Yan
Director: Ronny Yu
Action Director: Tung Wai
In cinema 4th April 2013 (HK)