Star Cast: Jackie Chan, John Cusack, Adrien Brody, Lin Peng, Mika Wang, Choi Siwon.
Director: Daniel Lee
Claps For: The ambition and the message conveyed.
Slaps For: Choppy editing and being overly melodramatic.
Popcorn Refill: Interval
Story: The movie begins with a rather unwanted prologue where two archaeologists discover a lost, ancient city called Regum and then the movie rewinds to around 48 BC showing how the city originated. Jackie Chan plays Huo Aan, the leader of the Silk Route protection squad who, as the name suggests, are in charge of maintaining peace and safety across the historical trade route connecting the East and the West. Huo and his team are framed in a gold smuggling scam and sent to exile in a forced-labour camp in a border area on the famed route. Here, they come across General Lucius (John Cusack) leading a Roman legion along with a blind boy named Publius. Huo offers Lucius safety and shelter, in return for which the Roman legion helps the Chinese build the city of Regum. There is also Tiberius (Adrien Brody), the elder brother of Publius, who is chasing Lucius and company with a 100,000 strong Roman army!
Performance: Veteran action star Jackie Chan is back with another role deviating from his usual action-comedy fare and is in sync with some of the more serious roles he has done lately like Police Story 5, Shinjuku Incident etc. He is sincere as usual and gives an earnest performance. John Cusack is disappointing, giving us the impression that he is disinterested! Adrien Brody makes for a decent villain, which we have also seen in last year's The Grand Budapest Hotel. Rest of the cast is decent with not much scope to showcase their acting skills except for Lin Peng to an extent, who plays the female warrior Moon.
Direction: Daniel Lee has movies like White Vengeance and Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon to his credit, which also dealt with Chinese history. The movie is visually very good and grand in scale. You do get the Hollywood blockbuster-feel which is definitely job well done for the director. Lee also manages to showcase the different fighting styles quite well even if there are not many action sequences. The message that the movie carries is very relevant and has significance even today. The sharing of cultures between the Chinese and the Romans are shown quite well.
The problem lies with the melodrama on display, which can be just too much. Every scene seems to be overflowing with extended emotion, especially in the second half. Also, the editing is choppy and just seems to jump from one scene to another, giving the viewer a disjointed feel. Also, the ending seems dragged and despite its 128 minute-length, the movie seems quite long.
Combo-on-Offer: A multi-cultural star cast with good visuals and an excellent premise. It has its flaws though and can be a bit too much to take!