The Lost Bladesman is a period martial arts film that becomes available today, November 1st, on Digital HD & On Demand and on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment. Starring Donnie Yen, it is loosely based on Luo Guanzhong's historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It was the Golden Lotus Award Winner for Best Film, Best Director (shared by Chong and Mak) and Best Actor (Donnie Yen) at the 2011 Macau International Movie Festival.
Set in ancient China during the warring period known as The Three Kingdoms (AD 220–280), the film's main character is Guan Yu (Donnie Yen, who also served as action director). He is one of the greatest warriors of the time. General Cao Cao (Wen Jiang), the real power behind the emperor, seeks to unify all China and enlists Guan Yu's aid. However, Guan Yu is a loyal friend of Liu Bei (Alex Fong), an enemy of Cao Cao.
A subplot involves the lovely Qilan (Li Sun, a.k.a. Betty Sun), who is to become one of Liu Bei's wives, but who, like Guan Yu, is held prisoner by Cao Cao. It so happens that she has long been loved by Guan Yu, who must suppress his feelings out of loyalty to his friend, a task mad ever more difficult after Cao Cao releases them and Guan Yu must take her to her future husband.
-- Audio: Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1
-- English for the Hearing Impaired
-- Extras/Bonus Features: None
There are numerous action pieces, primarily of the one-against-many type that feature Guan Yu battling hordes of opponents. These definitely keep things lively.
Unfortunately, the story is a bit on the thin side and not particularly engrossing. This is mainly due to Guan Yu being a too-good-to-be-true, rather one-dimensional character. There's no evidence here of the improved acting that Yen has displayed in some of his subsequent films. The best acting is by Wen Jiang as Cao Cao, a devious schemer who nonetheless has genuine admiration for Guan Yu.
AsianCineFest Rating: 3 out of 4 stars, recommended