— Terracotta Far East Film Festival • Udine Far East Film Festival
Donnie Yen has been ass-kicking in movies for nearly 30 years, yet as he approaches 50 he’s just hitting his stride. Star of some of the best action films of the last decade (including ActionFest 2010 selection 14 Blades and this year’s closing night film, Wu Xia) he’s got another winner on his hands with The Lost Bladesman, a grandiose epic that recalls the great Shaw Brothers swordplay films of the 70s.
Adapted from the classic Chinese tale Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the film sees Yen as legendary Guan Yu, whose journey of the five passes (and the slaying of six generals) played a pivotal role in the collapse of the Han dynasty. As directed by Alan Mak and Felix Chong (whose Infernal Affairs was remade in the US as The Departed), The Lost Bladesman does a beautiful job of telling its story of honor, loyalty and revenge with visual flair and jaw-dropping action. It also provides a fine showcase for Donnie Yen, the actor, proving once and again that he’s a strong presence beyond action. One of the unquestionable highlights of ActionFest 2012. — Matthew Kiernan