Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon was the 2nd film to come out of China in 2008 based on the Three Kingdoms time period of 169AD-280AD. Red Cliff, which I reviewed earlier this month, was the US$80 million epic by John Woo, whereas this film was the more modestly budgeted US$25 million epic by Daniel Lee. Daniel Lee is a director who I haven’t heard of before but being entrusted with a large budget, and a great cast, gave me some confidence that this film was going to be good.
Andy Lau stars as the lead character Zhao Zilong, one of the famed ‘Five Tiger Generals’ of the Shu kingdom, and he was also one of the bit part characters in Red Cliff. Andy Lau has, of course, appeared in other great Hong Kong films such as House of Flying Daggers and Infernal Affairs. He’s supported in the film by the great Sammo Hung, who needs no introduction, and Maggie Q from Rush Hour 2, Mission Impossible 3, and Live Free or Die Hard.
The story begins with a young Zilong starting out in the Shu army where Sammo’s character signs him up and quickly becomes his brother-in-arms in the fight against the leader of the Wei empire, Cao Cao. Zilong’s skill in the battlefield becomes evident and his meteoric rise up the ranks leads to his attaining the level of General, which surpasses his friend played by Sammo.
At this stage the film moves forward 20 years. Zilong is the only surviving member of the famous ‘Five Tiger Generals’ and he struggles to try and push forward the wishes of the leaders of the Shu empire. With his jealous friend still in his shadow, and the larger enemy army of Cao Cao’s descendants closing in on him, he finds himself having to make some hard choices.
After having seen Red Cliff earlier this month, this film had a lot to live up to in my eyes, but I’m happy to say it surpassed Red Cliff. The main reason for this was that the film dealt more with the historical facts over the 20+ years, whereas Red Cliff played out only a few months of time during this amazingly interesting period of history. The battle scenes weren’t as epic, but big battles do not make a great film. Although I loved Red Cliff, I think this film was even better. I think these two films work really well together and I would suggest everyone sees them both.
8.5 out of 10 from me.