I joined the movie right in the middle of a battle. And believe me when I say that this film, with a little bit more blood, would have given Lord of the Rings a run for their money!! From what I could gather from the TV Guide and what-not, three blood brothers fighting a war in China in the 1800s. What also kept me watching (because lets face it, most people would continue with the channel-hopping after the battle!) was the fact that I recognized each one of the 3 actors. I found this a bit of a shock considering I haven't seen many Asian films.
First we have Takeshi Kaneshiro. I like to say he's in my favourite Asian films, but to be honest all of the ones that I can think of off the top of my head, none of them were bad! He was in House of Flying Daggers, which I am a huge fan of. In fact, I may watch it after seeing him in this!! He was also in probably my second favourite foreign film and that is Chungking Express (a must-see for any film fan), a film that had me addicted to California Dreamin' for months!! While I thought his performance was fantastic, it was overshadowed by his co-stars.
Andy Lau was also in House of Flying Daggers in an electrifying performance. He was also in the Infernal Affairs movies which was later remade into The Departed. Now I have only seen the remake but as far as remakes go, The Departed is definitely one of the better ones. He was easily my favourite performance in the whole film, one that gains throughout the whole film until the climax (so, like sex really!! :P).
And of course, we have Jet Li. If you erase movies such as Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and Lethal Weapon 4, he was is a very highly acclaimed actor in Chinese martial arts epics, such as Hero, which used to be my favourite movie until James Cameron saw to that with Aliens. Hero is, in my opinion, the perfect story of love and revenge, accompanied by the most stunning visuals you'll probably ever see in a movie! (With House of Flying Daggers being a notable exception). The Warlords however, is the complete opposite of Hero.
Hero focused more on the martial arts side of things and was a lot more lavish and "matrix-style" without going too over the top. In The Warlords however, there is some amazing choreography with the battles and fights etc but, if anything, the main focus of the whole film is how war brought these men together, and then ultimately, broke them apart. And Li's performance is the same. In Hero, he was great at his arts, as per usual, but was a bit bland. Here, he gives a powerful performance of a man who commits atrocities in the name of justice. This begins a cycle of events that cause these blood brothers turn against one another due to the harsh realities of war and political intrigue.
As I'm sure you have gathered by now, I cannot recommend this film highly enough. And this is from someone who missed the first 20 minutes!! It has everything that a movie-goer wants: blood, battles, love, revenge, war and fucking everything else you can possibly think of. Except for spaceships and zombies, but thats just common sense!!