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I’m sticking to my own resolution to catch either an art house film or foreign film a week. He Ping’s ‘Warriors of Heaven and Earth’ or ‘Tian Di Ying Xiong’ is China’s best 2003 film following in the footsteps of Zhang Yimou’s ‘Yin Xiong’ (‘Hero’) in 2002 and Lee Ang’s ‘Wo Hu Cang Long’ (‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’) in 2000. The story primarily follows 2 plots; one of a Japanese emissary sent into the Gobi desert to execute a renegade soldier. And later both travels together to protect a caravan transporting a Buddhist monk and a valuable treasure from Turks thieves. Adding a fantasy aspect to the seriousness of the film was this magical element with these relics of a Buddhist Saint that can control the western region whose steeped into Buddhism?!?! I mean who’s this Saint anyway? And why’s he so powerful? The beauty of this film is in its beautiful cinematography of the Gobi desert, use of little dialogue that’s refreshingly effective and great battle scenes that were bold and bloody. A couple of the sub characters like the Old Man, Little Monk and the 4 brothers were nicely portrayed. The beauty of the battle scenes and Gobi desert alone make this movie worth watching.

Thought Harry T. Yung’s reviews great insight!
“This is a scene when the three main characters converge in an ambush, and we see separate shots of them on horseback, clad in red, black and white respectively. This was the point when I made the association to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach respectively), even though the match may not be perfect. The Good is one-time army captain Li (JIANG Wen), now hunted by the government for his refusal to slaughter women and children. The Bad is Lai Xi (NAKAI Kiichi), the government agent charged with the assignment of killing the Good before he his allowed to return to his native Japan to see his mother. The Ugly is bandit leader Master An (WANG Zueqi) who is being manipulated by the Turkish Empire to go after certain treasure. Watching the three wielding their respective weapons, a Chinese army sabre, a Japanese sword and a curved Islamic sword, I had another thought. If I were to cast them from Hollywood, my choice would be Russell Crowe, Morgan Freeman and Johnny Depp respectively.”

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