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October 11, 2012

Movie Review: Legendary Amazons (2011, Blu-ray)

Directed by Frank Chan
Starring Cecilia Cheung, Xiaoqing Liu and Richie Ren
Run Time: 108 minutes

Based on the 1972 martial arts classic The 14 Amazons, renowned actor and producer Jackie Chan and director Frankie Chan’s remake, Legendary Amazons, debuts on Blu-ray, DVD and digital October 16th from Well Go USA Entertainment. Cecilia Cheung (Shaolin Soccer), Cheng Pei- Pei (Chrouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) and Liu Ziaoqing (Plastic Flowers) star as widowed wives who must lead a band of fellow widows into battle when the last of a long line of Song generals are killed. Richie Ren also stars as Yang Zongbao, the last of the Song generals to fall in battle.

Yang Zongbao is the last man standing in the Yang clan, a family of generals who have dedicated their lives to defending the Song Dynasty from foreign invaders. He apparently dies in battle when the treacherous Imperial Tutor Pan refuses to send reinforcements to aid him. Yang Zongbao’s widowed wife Mu Guiying leads the other widows of the Yang clan into battle to continue the legacy of their husbands.

This film was a bit of a mixed bag for me, there was some really great stuff going on but also some other things that I wasn't too keen on.

Starting off with the positives- The warrior costumes used by all our main characters are absolutely mind-blowing and truly bad-ass. From the battle helmets to the armor’s and weapons, you could just tell that a lot of thought went into their creation and when viewed in hi-def they really were something to behold. Another great aspect and something crucial to any martial arts film, were the battle scenes. From the one-on-one combat to the large-scale battles, everything was well choreographed and quite fun to watch, which is something one would expect from guys like Jackie Chan and Frank Chan.

Now for the not-so-positive- Starting with the script, maybe something gets lost in the Chinese to English translation and subtitles, but the dialog just seemed so hokey and ridiculous, (and yes, I realize that's sort of a hallmark of martial arts movies but this was hokey in a way that wasn't really humorous or amusing at all). The attempted plot twists were very rudimentary as well and there weren't really too many surprises as the plot played itself out.  But the biggest disappointment for me personally was the gratuitous use of sub-par CGI which was employed throughout the film. From every other standpoint this had the look and feel of a big budget movie, so why they chose to use lame CGI blood, weapon and other various effects is just beyond me. Had it not been so noticeable it wouldn't have been a big deal, but it marred what should have been a pretty damn good movie and lowered the overall quality to something that seemed second-rate.

Now, as bad as all that sounds, I would still recommend this movie to martial arts fans because it does deliver a ton of great one-on-one and large-scale fight sequences.

Legendary Amazons is a good movie, it just tripped over its own feet from some of the production standpoints. On my scale, it squeaks by with a 7 out of 10 score.

* New English Dub
* Behind the Scenes Featurette
* Trailers

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