SFIFF: The Warlords

After spending most of yesterday at the Kabuki, I headed to the Castro to see The Warlords. A big, historical epic staring Jet Li seemed worth crossing town.

It wasn’t. Huge, cumbersome, and melodramatic, The Warlords succeeded primarily in being loud. Set during the Taiping Rebellion, it stars Li as a general who turns a group of bandits into an unbeatable army with the help of two bandit leaders who become his blood brothers. There’s a love triangle, as well. The battle scenes are big, but seldom thrilling and often laughable. Li’s General Pang commits several atrocities, but we’re supposed to forgive him because he cries as he does them. When the movie ended with a quote from earlier, “Dying is easy. Living is harder,” I suppressed the desire to yell out the correct quote: “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.”

The Warlords won’t screen again at the festival, although it might get a regular theatrical release in this country.