Reviews are hard and I’m lazy. So instead of trying to convince you into watching or not watching something, I’m taking a short cut and putting the new Jackie Chan movie Dragon Blade down to a few basic questions.
- What is it?
Jackie Chan plays a familiar trope of his as the humble, pacifist yet highly skilled fighter who stands for the side of all that is good, true and Chinese apple pie. John Cusack is a Roman general who rocks up on Jackie’s doorstep. Adrien Brody is the evil Roman consul who wants Cusack’s head. The rest writes itself.
- I would like this if I like…
Kung fu and Chinese historical fantasy. By the latter I mean Dragon Blade is slightly more historically accurate than Game of Thrones. At least the place and time the story takes place in – the far Western reaches of the Silk Road – did exist. The rest? Complete fiction.
- Is it good?
I’m not sure… It’s the best action movie Jackie Chan has starred in for many years. He’s older, but he has more grace about him. There are very few of his trademark action gags – this is more straight-up kung-fu. The fight scenes are solid and entertaining. Everything else rambles along like a John Wayne movie: no moral ambiguity, a lot of swagger (in Chan’s case, his character’s incorrigible humility and fairness) and plenty of melodramatic ticks. There’s also lots talking. At some point I lost track of the story, but the action scenes made up for that. Anyway, I don’t matter. This was made for the Chinese market and they rewarded it with a healthy domestic profit.
- Should I watch it?
Probably. You might think it’s brilliant and I’m stupid for not liking all of it. You might have differing opinions on Chan’s performance and I’m stupid for even recommending this. If those are possible outcomes for you, then you should give Dragon Blade a whirl. But if you still refer to Chan as ‘that guy from Rush Hour,’ I don’t think you’re ready for this.
Last Updated: July 23, 2015