God Of War is a Chinese/Hong Kong venture which sees the Chinese face-off against pirates and Japanese soldiers pretending to be pirates.
General Qi Jiguang, Wenzhou Zhao (True Legend, The Blade), is an up and coming general in the Ming Dynasty where his stock is up after multiple pirate defeats.
General Yo Dayou, Sammo Hung (Winners & Sinners, Martial Law (TV)), is an old hand, more suited to the sea. He’s been battling a particularly tricky set of pirates for months with little success.
The timeline he’s been giving for achieving his goal of destroying the pirates by the General is running out. So the General brings in Qi Jiguang to give him a hand.
He successfully defeats the pirates but the Japanese get away and manage to gather more troops for a round two. They plan to attack at multiple points, aiming to take out the Ming Dynasty before it’s even started.
Gordon Chan (The Medallion, Thunderbolt) is the man behind the camera with Frankie Tam (The Four, Lawless Kingdom), Maria Wong (The Four, Mural) and MengZhang Wu (Out Of Inferno) are the writing team.
Let’s start with the good; the sound is nothing short of epic. If you get the chance to see this in a surround sound environment, make sure it’s turned up to the max.
The fight scenes are stunning, a staff fight between the two generals is a particular standout from a sound point of view.
The camera is handled ok, it’s not brilliant, there’s a few too many close-ups which means we miss some of the action. Though the final fight scene is nicely done.
Having said that, the fight choreography is blindingly brilliant. Pengfei Qin (Red Cliff, Reign Of Assassins) is responsible and he should be very proud of what he’s arranged.
Ye old favourite Sammo isn’t in the movie for that long, it focuses mainly on Zhao who does well as the leader and new favourite in battle.
This movie leans heavily on the strategy side of war with Sun Tzu’s The Art of War even receiving a mention. It’s an interesting take, though some of the decisions and subsequent actions take very little time to occur which, given the two-hour run-time and slow-pace, isn’t great.
The main downfall of the movie, and I except this may be a problem with the preview copy I was supplied, is that the subtitles are next-to impossible to read.
White on white does not make for easy reading, they’re also quick, zipping through at times and this isn’t one of those films you can just watch without knowing what they are saying.
This adds to the overall confused nature of the film. It’s slow and yet parts that feel important, like you should be paying attention, zip through with breakneck speed.
Adding to the confusion is Qi’s wife, played by Regina Wan (Hide And Seek, Threads Of Time). She gets hugely, OTT, upset at the slightest thing her husband does.
You get the feeling this has been included purely because she is required to step up and kick some ass later, but it feels out of place and tacked on. It makes for some odd scenes when she’s involved.
God Of War isn’t the kick-ass, fight-a-minute movie you may be expecting, with strategy featuring heavily. When the fight scenes arrive though, they are decent, but it’s the sound effects that stand out and make God Of War pop. Just a shame there wasn’t more of that.
Out on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital 16th October