With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Saturday, December 07, 2013

ACF 2046: SAVING GENERAL YANG available this Tuesday, December 10th

Well Go USA
Saving General Yang
Directed by Ronny Yu
Hong Kong/China, 2013, 102 minutes

Saving General Yang will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital (VOD, electronic sell-through, and streaming) this coming Tuesday, December 10th. It's an epic action war drama based on the story of seven filial sons who fought against great odds to rescue their father. My review is based on watching the movie on Blu-ray.

The story is set in Northeast China during the early Northern Song dynasty, around 986 AD. The story is set in motion by the actions of the 6th and 7th brothers. Yang Yan Zhao (Wu Chun), the 6th born brother, loves Princess Chai of the Song Imperial family. Although she feels the same way towards him, the Emperor's brother-in-law, Pan Bao wants to marry her and sets up a rigged tournament to win her hand. The Yang and Pan families have been at odds with one another for a long time.

General Yang (Adam Cheng)

Defying his father's orders, Yan Zhao enters the tournament. When he's defeated by a cheating Pan Bao, the 7th brother, impulsive Yang Yan Si (Fu Xin Bo), steps into the ring and knocks Pan Bao down. Pan Bao lands badly and dies. Although the death was purely accidental, Pan Boa's sister, the Emperor's wife is furious with the Yang family.

The Khitan are enemies of the Song, and  are again threatening to invade. General Yang Linggong (Adam Cheng) had defeated them before, but the Emperor accedes to the request of Pan Bao's father that he be put in charge of the army, relegating General Yang to leading only the front-line troops.The Khitan forces are led by Yelu Ye, whose father had been defeated and killed by General Yang. On the battlefield, Pan refuses to come to the aid of Yang's forces and instead withdraws, leaving Yang and his remaining men to seek refuge at a remote location. With the Emperor's blessing, Yang's seven sons lead a small force to fight their way through the Khitan and save their father.

The Khitan on the move

There's action galore in the film, courtesy of experienced martial arts action director Dong Wei. He did a terrific job of preparing the stars, who hail from Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Taiwan, in handling their weapons and horseback riding. Director Ronny Yu sought authenticity in the action scenes, and so the weapons were heavy, as was the armor, to give them substance. This made the action sequences a real challenge for the actors.

The action is that of warfare, not kung fu. So there are no fancy stances and posing, just fierce warriors going at it in life-or-death battles. The live-action is discretely supplemented by some digital blood flying off of bodies as cuts are made. This effect doesn't always succeed, but here it works pretty well.

Once again an outnumbered brother fights on bravely

The disc has two language tracks: the original mandarin and an English dubbed version, both in 5.1 or 2.0. English, Spanish, and French subtitles are available. Extras include a "Making Of" featurette (8:58 minutes long); interviews with director Yu and the actors playing General yang and the seven brothers (1 hour, 34 minutes long); and a trailer with English dubbed audio.

While the main draw of Saving General Yang is the action, it also is a touching story that focuses on the traditional Chinese virtues of loyalty, filial piety, benevolence and righteousness. ACF rating: 3 out of 4 stars; solidly recommended.