“Jackie Chan, John Cusack and Academy Award winner Adrien Brody star as warriors battling over the lucrative Silk Road in this epic action adventure.” – Amazon
“When corrupt Roman leader Tiberius arrives with a giant army to claim the Silk Road, Huo An teams up his army with an elite Legion of defected Roman soldiers led by General Lucius to protect his country and his new friends.” – IMBD
Wow, what to say in a review of this film? Well, I suppose I will begin with…beware of movies with one sentence synopses. If the makers of the movie cannot tell you what it’s about then it’s unlikely you will figure it out either as shown by the two summaries above taken from Amazon and IMBD.
I strive to find something good in everything I watch or read but this time it’s a struggle. Still, I will start with what I actually enjoyed and that would be the fight scenes, those were beautifully choreographed and performed….that’s pretty much it. That was quick wasn’t it?
My husband and I sat down to watch this flick one rainy afternoon after having recorded it on our DVR. I thought this should be fun, Jackie Chan movies are generally at least fun with him in them due to his charisma and charm…but it fell so, so horribly flat.
I knew going in having read the information our cable provider listed that this wouldn’t have the comedy aspect of many of Chan’s movies have but still I expected something more. Watching this movie felt like watching actors around a table doing their first read-through together of a script; I swore I could hear pages turning, it was that flat.
I realize, having read other people’s reviews, that there are some who still thought it fun to watch even though it’s accuracy with history is abysmal (I can look past that in movies due to artistic license), but I simply did not see what they saw…I looked for something redeeming, I just never saw it.
The story itself is a snooze-fest that never comes together in anything close to a cohesive manner so that the viewer understands what is really going much less what is motivating the characters. One of the most annoying aspects of this flick is that it is crammed full of flashbacks, and when I say crammed full I mean that they waste their time doing flashbacks to something that happened merely fifteen minutes earlier in the movie, you just watched those scenes! These end up interrupting the flow and wastes the time that could have been used to actually develop the story.
The director seems to completely ignore the fact that the viewer actually watched the scenes he’s flashing back to just a few moments prior. It feels to me as though the director is going “see, these two guys really do like each other and by the way, since I wasn’t clear earlier… this is why they’re teaming up”…just in case you fell asleep. “Oh, and since I’ve done nothing else to draw you in emotionally, I’m going to trot out this little blind boy and have him sing to everyone in an angelic voice for absolutely no reason at all.” Honestly, the viewer is left going, “huh…….?”
Now, if I were the type who would watch the movie and expect nothing more than cool fight scenes, ignoring the lack of story, I’d have been entertained. That’s not me though; I expect a decent story as well. Jackie Chan is a master at choreographing and directing fight scenes, everyone knows that and he does do that here….but you cannot make an entire movie based on that alone, the story feels like an after-thought.
The casting was just as confusing as the story-line, yet another mind-boggling catastrophe. I like the actors individually but seriously, John Cusak as the Roman General Lucius? That was a huge mistake! It sadly reminded me of Keifer Sutherland as Corvus in Pompeii, that was another massive casting blunder. Seriously, what in the world were they thinking? Cusak doesn’t fit in this role AT ALL. He is not commanding enough in the role to play a general, one can imagine Gerard Butler in the role but not Cusak. There is absolutely no believability to his character, he’s completely one-dimensional, no emotion at all of any kind, no arrogance; there doesn’t seem to be any passion for the character he is playing…and I generally enjoy him.
Adrian Brody was also mis-cast as Tiberius. Having read other reviews, even good ones, I am glad to see I’m not alone in this opinion. Brody was supposed to play a corrupt Roman leader…but how would you know that since very few of his lines could be understood due to mumbling. He was honestly often completely unintelligible; my husband and I found ourselves frequently looking at each other in confusion as to what he was saying. These scenes were viewed in the dailies after they were shot and approved, so I find it inexcusable that the director would leave scenes in that couldn’t even be understood by the audience. Why even bother writing lines for that character?
Now, I won’t say Jackie Chan was mis-cast, in fact I’d be willing to bet he was the first one cast in the movie and they relied on him alone as the keystone to carry the film but sadly I have to draw a comparison to Pompeii again. Pompeii was basically made as a vehicle for Kit Harrington as a new hot commodity and with that movie they pinned their hopes on him as they have done with Chan here, but sadly both Chan’s and Harrington’s characters weren’t strong enough to anchor their films and that’s not their fault.
This director has done an amazing thing in the fact that he managed to completely squelch the personalities of three normally outstanding and charismatic actors with his directing style and smothered the life out of this movie
Please; do not waste your time on this one. It may look interesting but believe me….it’s really not.
No, really….don’t even watch it to see if I’m correct, just to prove me wrong; I cannot be held responsible for the pain it will put you through….although, on the other hand…you might get a good nap in.