Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Warrior and the Wolf (Lang Zai Ji / 狼灾记)

Epic Failure

Nice poster, nice trailer, disaster of a film. I didn't expect to discover something so bad so early in the year, but I did. If you're looking for a film that's self-indulgent to the point that the narrative doesn't make sense, nor even attempted to tell a proper story, then look no further than Chinese director Tian Zhuangzhuang's The Warrior and The Wolf.

If there's only one plus point, then I'd say to watch this for the lusciously beautiful cinematography which captured plenty of postcard picturesque landscapes that will take your breath away, and one action scene involving a large stampeding pack of wolves. Otherwise, the film is wrong on many counts, starting with the casting of art house darling Jo Odagiri opposite Maggie Q, both of whom cannot speak Mandarin and had to rely on dubbers to speak on their behalf. Which of course is a curious case of casting, since I for one amongst the audience gets disturbed when the lip movement doesn't sync with dialogue.

Why these two were chosen I have no idea (Maggie Q replacing Lust, Caution's Tang Wei actually), but probably because of the fact that the film contained rape scene after rape scene, that it really went overboard. What more in a very uncreative, repetitive coming from behind each time, that I wonder what Tian Zhuangzhuang actually wanted to infer from gratuitously boring sex that never seemed to know how and when to end.

Based upon the short story by Japanese writer Yasushi Inoue, the film is set during the warring states period, and tells of the tale of a warrior Lu Chengkang (Odagiri), an indecisive chap who one day on his way home with his troops, chance upon the nomadic Harran tribe, and forces his way to a woman, played by Maggie Q. To follow the story is extremely tiring because the narrative flits back and forth with nary a proper transition to cue you in, and made worse by Odagiri having to play his character from hero to cad, from determined leader to indecisive chap.Maggie Q fared no better though, and had absolutely zero chemistry with her co-star.

Then there's the myth inserted that the Harran people were once wolves, but at this point you'll probably give up by the lacklustre storyline, the needless graphical sex (with blink and you miss peekaboos) that had the lovers just go on continuously like jackrabbits, and wondering just what everyone was possibly smoking to have had this project green lit and shot. You'll wonder what it's angle is about, and just what it was trying to achieve with bad filming techniques making its convoluted narrative worst off.

You have been warned to skip this.

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