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January 14, 2013

Movie Review: Triad Wars (2008)

Directed by Dennis Law
Starring Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Simon Yam and Niu Tien
Run Time: 117 minutes
Rated: R

In the midst of a violent gang war, a powerful Triad leader is faced with losing a grip on his power. As his empire slowly crumbles from within and his trust in those closest to him dwindles, violence escalates as the Triad starts clashing with other Triads among the Hong Kong community. Faced with his only option, he’ll resort to violent ways to regain his status and reclaim the respect of his Triad.

This was a movie that for me just seemed to bite off way more then it could chew. There was nothing about the story-line itself that was disagreeable, and in fact I have a hard time disliking any type of Asian gang-war movies. I mean, who doesn't like well choreographed blood soaked sword-fights? And all those hot Asian cuties who make their way into these kinds of films? And indeed, Triad Wars offers fairly decent doses of both of those things. So what's not to like?

Well to begin with, the execution just wasn't there. The story itself is fairly bland and straight forward with no real surprises anywhere along the way. As each scene unfolds you pretty much know how its going to turn out....scene after scene after scene. There really is no difference between whats happening story-wise at the 20 minute mark and the 110 minute mark, which just seemed to make this movie seem excruciatingly long and tedious.

Another thing which bogged this film down was the all too common practice involving the excessive use of bush-league CGI effects. Nothing ruins the moment of a beautifully choreographed sword fight more then seeing it end in a splash of computer generated blood and body parts. Those kinds of short-cuts always drive me nuts, especially in movies like this because they cheapen the beauty of the art of the sword-play that these actors have spent a lifetime mastering.

This movie really tries hard (too hard) to achieve the effect of The Godfather films but lacked the intrigue and complexity of story to pull it off. Ultimately, it just had a generic feel to it. For fans of Yakuza-style action I would say go ahead and give it a try as a rental, as there's plenty of gun-fighting and mindless violence to be had and the martial arts showdown between Wu Jing and Sammy Hung near the finale is undeniably impressive, and if you're also okay with bland CGI-style gore then you may have fun with it. Casual fans though will probably be nodding off within the first half-hour and not even conscious when the best sword fighting happens near the end.

Its certainly not a horrible movie but for me it just seemed to collapse under its own weight and lacked the style necessary to back up the story-line and keep the viewer interested.

Final Word- Middle of the road Asian action film at best.
*Deleted Scenes
*The Making of Triad Wars
*Triad Wars Trailer
*Other assorted Lionsgate Trailers

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