Actors: Donnie Yen, Wei Zhao, Sammo Hung
Director: Daniel Yee
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
Number of discs: 1
Studio: ANCHOR BAY
DVD Release Date: September 2, 2014
Run Time: 113 minutes
Donnie Yen has an amazing martial arts background, and when combined with his cinematic abilities this can make him an incredible asset to a feature. This is why it was so disappointing to find his talents weren’t put to full use in 14 Blades, a film which prefers inconsistent special effects over the skills possessed by the cast. Or perhaps Yen is simply getting older, transitioning to a different type of roles. Whatever the reason, 14 Blades feels like a film that should have been better than the average viewing experience it provides.
In a plot that feels vaguely familiar to at least a dozen other martial arts movies, a royal guard general named Qinglong (Yen) is the last remaining still loyal to his Emperor after the Imperial Court is taken over by a traitor named Jia (Law Kar-Ying). Injured and hunted by the royal guards he once belonged to, Qinglong must rely on the help of a brigade of bandits that he comes across, as well as an escort agency with his inevitable love interest (played by Vicky Zhao). The group of unlikely allies are the only chance at setting things right, destroying the tyrant traitor, Jia.
While there is a lot of action and violence, especially involving the box of blades that Qinglong carries around. It is an incredibly inconvenient Swiss Army Knife contraption for deadly blades, including everything from projecting arrows to more traditional swords for hand-to-hand combat. These blades are never really distinguished from each other, however, with the exception of the gold-plated blade meant for suicide. The result is a series of different weapons being used in battle, without ever really understanding what makes one different from the next. Many simply look like swords. While the concept is creative, it wasn’t carried through with enough detail to warrant being the title.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6.5/10
Historical Significance: 5.5/10