Dynasty Warriors is a video game franchise that started as a fighting game series before becoming its better known over-the-top hack-and-slash version. The series typically involves picking a general or warrior from China’s Three Kingdoms Period and using them to kill waves of enemies with huge attacks. It’s actually pretty in line with the exaggerated personalities and attributes given to the same figures in the book Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but taken up a notch. This movie captures that perfectly.
The film takes place at the beginning of the Three Kingdoms period, when the Eastern Han dynasty started to fall and multiple rebellions broke out. After the emperor died, the child emperor was deposed by the warlord Dong Zhuo (Lam Suet), who essentially claimed the throne. A group of generals join forces to try and take down Dong Zhuo. Four among these are those who have been chosen by the master of Sword Forge Castle (Carina Lau), those blessed with extraordinary powers and weapons: The loyal Han prince Liu Bei (Tony Yang), his friends Zhang Fei (Justin Cheung) and Guan Yu (Han Geng), and the ambitious Cao Cao (Wang Kai). They lead the forces to take back the Han dynasty from Dong Zhuo, only to find that Dong Zhuo has recruited the most powerful warrior in China, who is also blessed by the gods: Lu Bu (Louis Koo).
The key to this movie is that it does a great job of combining great action sequences with intense character scenes, just like the games. The characters essentially have superpowers, but they’re represented as still being mortals despite their ridiculous abilities. When I say ridiculous, I mean “summoning lightning and creating earthquakes” level. The acting is great, and the dub isn’t actually bad if you prefer that method, but I would stick with the subtitles and original dialogue. The visuals are particularly striking, always having a kind of surreal look that makes the sometimes-lackluster CGI more acceptable. The one downside to the film is that it goes through a decent chunk of the story at a fast pace so, unless you’re passingly familiar with the games or the source material, you might get lost. Not that it really matters, since you probably aren’t watching it for the plot points.
Overall, solid video game adaptation. Look forward to more of them.