With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

WARRIOR PRINCESS available on DVD today, Tuesday, September 16th

Lionsgate
presents
A Shudder Productions Film
Warrior Princess (a.k.a. Queen Ahno - Spirit of a Warrior)
Written & Directed by Shuudertsetseg Baatarsuren
Mongolia , 2013, 95 minutes
DVD SRP: $26.98

Warrior Princess arrives today on a single disc DVD from Lionsgate that includes a digital Ultraviolet download. The historical action/drama is based on the true story of Queen Ahno of Mongolia, who gave her life to save her husband in battle.

The title is a bit misleading. Ahno is indeed a princess in a Western Mongolia kingdom, but it as a Queen that she fights as a warrior. The film is also known, rather more accurately, as Queen Ahno - Spirit of a Warrior. Perhaps Warrior Princess was used for the DVD release to evoke memories of the Xena: Warrior Princess television series.

The film is another case of what seems to be a strong trend in Asian movies of late, namely using the bookend approach to storytelling. The film begins with the one and only battle in it, then proceeds via flashback to tell the tale of how Ahno got there. The film ends basically with a replay of the opening sequence, supplemented by some additional information. This same approach, for example, was used in the Chinese romance/drama But Always (2014).

Official WARRIOR PRINCESS Trailer -- September 2014

Princess Ahno (Otgonjargal Davaasuren) is the seventeen year old daughter of Ochirt Tsetsen, one of the kings of Western Mongolia. She is quite adept at using the bow and arrow, and is in love with Galdan, one of the sons from a nearby kingdom that is a rival to her father's. Unfortunately Galdan has taken his vows and is a Grand Lama.

Galdan's younger brother Senge has claimed the family throne and is to marry Ahno. However when he is killed, Galdan is convinced by his mother to break his sacred vows and assume the throne, because Senge's son Tseveenravdan is not of age. As the new king, Galdan marries Ahno, but peace and happiness eludes them because there are rivalries not only within the tribes of Western Mongolia, but also between the Western and the Central Mongolian tribes. Fanning the flames of these internecine rivalries is Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty.

QUEEN AHNO - SPIRIT OF A WARRIOR - International Version Trailer

Quite frankly, in some cases I at times had a bit of trouble keeping track of just who was who. Given the period costumes and my lack of familiarity with Mongolian actors, this is not all that surprising. Still, whatever fuzziness I occasionally had with the identities of some characters did not prevent me from following the general drift of events.

Another thing worth noting is that, despite the title, there is not much battlefield action going on, at least not until the end. The film is much more concerned with political intrigue. There are some other violent scenes, but these pertain to politically motivated assassinations rather than warfare.

That being said, the film's large battle is quite impressive. So are the exterior scenes in general and the costumes in particular.

Disc Stats:
- Digital Ultraviolet download
- Audio
  - Mongolian 5.1 Dolby Digital
  - English 5.1 Dolby Digital
- Optional English and Spanish subtitles
- Warrior Princess trailer
- Trailers from other Lionsgate offerings

Although not really an action picture, Warrior Princess does a credible job as a historical drama and biography.

AsianCineFest rating 3 out of 4 stars; a decent enough film that's worthwhile mainly because of its depiction of a period in Mongolian history, which is not the subject of many films. And the free download that's included with the DVD is a very nice bonus.

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