Editor, Asia; Hong Kong, China (@Marshy00)
Edko Films Ltd. has released Felix Chong & Alan Mak's period action epic THE LOST BLADESMAN on DVD and Blu-ray and given it a rather impressive looking HD scrub-up for home viewers. The story of revered warrior and tactician-turned-godlike symbol Guan Yu (Donnie Yen), THE LOST BLADESMAN may start off bogged down in scene-setting and convoluted historical backstory, but by Act 2 has shifted up a number of gears and delivers a solid hour of non-stop martial arts goodness that is pretty tough to fault. 

I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed this film, particularly as the Chong/Mak output has been uneven at best and never come good on the early promise of INFERNAL AFFAIRS. The film was rather poorly received by the Chinese press in Hong Kong who labelled it as boring and took issue with the diminutive Yen portraying such a statuesque symbol of all-conquering manhood as Guan Yu. However, I think Yen gives a pretty decent performance here, shows off a number of different fighting styles and even dares to tackle something approaching a romantic subplot. 

Time is not on Donnie's side, and the man needs to broaden his range pronto or risk being dropped as a has-been, so I encourage any attempt by the actor to give his thespian muscles a fuller work-out. Thankfully here he is ably supported by the always wonderful and ever-gracious Jiang Wen as Cao Cao, who brings a great deal of humanity to a character often portrayed as nothing more than a monster.

The Disc:

The transfer here is pretty damn gorgeous, looking bright and crisp throughout with good contrast in both day and nighttime scenes, as well as during the film's occasional monochromatic moments. It's a richly textured film with plenty of fast-paced action and similarly velocitous camerawork, and I saw no faults in the picture quality at all. 

The film also features 4 audio tracks:
Mandarin Dolby TrueHD 7.1
Mandarin Dolby Digital Surround EX
Cantonese Dolby Digital Surround EX
Mandarin PCM 7.1

The Extras:

Making Of documentary
The Lost Bladesman Apocalypse by Chip Tsao
Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
Photo Gallery

Surprisingly, the Making Of documentary actually does include optional English subtitles, allowing us the opportunity to enjoy interviews with Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Betty Sun, Alan Mak, Felix Chong and others, and get a brief but hugely appreciated glimpse behind the scenes of the film and their attitudes and intentions when approaching such as revered character as Guan Yu. Unfortunately, there are no English subtitles for the 3 non-anamorphic TV spots featuring Hong Kong journalist and broadcaster Chip Tsao.

In summary:

If you're not too bothered about the extras and just want to enjoy Donnie kicking some arse then this is a damn fine way to watch THE LOST BLADESMAN. It's a film that is respectful of its subject matter and does the right thing in giving context to its central characters and their relationships, but also knows when to drop the history lesson and dole out the action. For the central fight between Donnie Yen and Andy On alone, I'd put THE LOST BLADESMAN high on my list of unmissable martial arts films of 2011.

The Lost Bladesman

  • Felix Chong
  • Alan Mak
  • Felix Chong
  • Alan Mak
  • Donnie Yen
  • Wen Jiang
  • Li Sun
  • Bing Shao
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Felix ChongAlan MakDonnie YenWen JiangLi SunBing ShaoActionBiographyDrama

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