It has been almost a decade since director Alan Mak and then-screenwriter Felix Chong combined forces with Andrew Lau to create the iconic crime thriller, INFERNAL AFFAIRS. Since then, Lau has cut the apron strings and Chong has graduated to take co-directorial credit on four films with Mak, as well as recently gaining recognition from the Hong Kong Film Awards for his first solo effort, ONCE A GANGSTER. After their little seen debut MIDNIGHT IN TOKYO back in 2005, the Mak/Chong team graduated to more high-profile projects, namely the Sammi Cheng vehicle LADY COP AND PAPA CROOK in 2008 and the solid, if unspectacular surveillance thriller OVERHEARD the following year. Now firmly cemented in Hong Kong's directorial A-list despite having yet delivered a genuinely great film, it seemed inevitable the couple would attempt a period epic, and who better to cast as deified General Guan Yu than the industry's current heavyweight champ, Donnie Yen in a film that is hands-down their best film to-date by a considerable margin.
The intensions of THE LOST BLADESMAN are best conveyed by the title of Luo Guanzhong's classic story, upon which the film is loosely based: Guan Yu Crossing Five Passes And Slaying Six Generals. With a title like that, Donnie on board as both star and Action Director, and a supporting cast that includes Andy On, Calvin Li and Wang Xuebing, audiences can rest assured the action quota in THE LOST BLADESMAN is set surprisingly high, with Donnie taking on entire armed divisions single-handed, as well as squaring off for a number of impressive one-on-one bouts. That said, those looking for another dose of IP MAN style sparring may be left wanting, as Guan Yu mostly fights with the guan dao spear (which was subsequently named after him). Over the course of the film, Donnie does fight with a variety of swords, spears and even a crossbow, but there is no hand-to-hand combat this time out.
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