The Empress and the Warriors–silly movie   2 comments

I don’t know beans about Eastern Cinema–be it Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Thai. I do know that I like lots of action, romance, beautiful scenery and martial arts action. Chinese and Japanese films provide plenty of those things. I don’t know who the stars are, who the directors/producers are, what their limitations are. I just know I like a good movie.

I’ll put up with anything as long as it has a lot of action, a bit of sex, and some gorgeous scenery. So, when my friend Michael Stackpole mentioned that he had this movie, and that it had beautiful action scenes in it, I determined to borrow it from him and watch it.



Mike graciously loaned it to me, and now I’m ready to graciously give it back to him. I watched it last week and I’m willing to give the movie its due.  Good things about it: It was beautifully photographed in gorgeous country. The sets were great. The fighting scenes were well done. The acting may have been good–it’s not my culture–I couldn’t really tell.

But the story made no sense at all. There are these warring kingdoms–ok, from what I know of Chinese history there was a period of time when China was split into many different kingdoms who battled it out for surpemacy. The old king is severely wounded in battle, and then finished off by an ambitious traitor who wants his throne. The king wants the kingdom to go to his best general and right-hand man, but politics rears its ugly head, as personified by the villain, and it winds up going to the king’s daughter instead. She vows to become a warrior queen, and gamely starts training. Her mentor/teacher beats the crap out of her, and never misses a chance to  humiliate her, but she does get better. She actually becomes a very good archer, and is a fine horsewoman. The bad guy decides that if the queen vanished, he could take the throne without opposition, so, and here’s where the logic of the movie completely falls apart, he sets a clan of ninjas–yes, I know there are no ninjas in China, but what else are you going to call a bunch of goofballs who dress all in black and attack in gangs?–to assassinate her. She is out in the country bathing her horse in a river all by herself.  Say, what? The queen of the nation is hours from town, all alone, giving her horse a bath in a river? Are you crazy? That would never happen.

But, it gets better. Twenty ninjas attack her. They come flying silently out of the trees into the river, but she looks up, spots them, and dives. Suddenly the water, that was perhaps 2 feet deep where she was bathing the horse, is 10 feet deep so the ninjas don’t all break their legs when they jump in and there lots of room for underwater ballet and combat. Good, exciting action. Did I believe it? Not for a second.

Having beaten up 3 or 4 ninjas underwater, our warrior queen surfaces, gets on her horse, and gallops away from the ambush. Yeah, that makes sense, although why a couple of ninjas didn’t take her horse when they first attacked, I’ll never know. Perhaps it’s just because these are really stupid ninjas. But, they sure are in good shape. They are able to chase a galloping horse through a forest, keep up with it, and still have breath left over to fire blowguns with poison darts at the princess. She dodges a few of them, but then one of them shoots her in the back, and that should have been the end of that story.

Except that these happen to be the very woods where a mystic warrior/doctor/hot air balloonist has set up his idyllic hermit dwelling place. When he sees the princess being chased by ninjas, he activates all the amazing booby traps that he has set up  years ahead of time to protect himself and takes out all the ninjas. Then he picks up the princess, takes her home, cures her of the poison, and shows her how wonderful life alone in the forest with a renaissance Chinese warrior/doctor/mystic can be. Ah, love! The fairy tale is in full force now.

Still, duty calls, and she leaves him, goes back to  her kingdom, meets the bodyguard that should have been with her when she was first attacked, rides home, finds the bad guy on the throne, and banishes him. Say what? This guy has killed your father, hired ninjas to kill you, and stolen the throne, and when you come back you tell him he’s free to go?  How stupid can this woman be?  You kill him, right then and there.  You don’t banish him–I believe he took all his troops and went about as far away as the next town. If the bad guy has to get away in order for him to come back and make trouble in the rest of the film, then as movie maker you have a tremendous action scene–perhaps a rescue by his forces–or some incredible fighting scenes that show him to be a worthy foe. You don’t let him walk out and take his army with him. But she did.

Then she rules for a week or so, and gets ready for  her grand coronation–there hasn’t been time for that yet, when she decides that she doesn’t want to be queen after all. So she abdicates, gives the throne to the warrior hero who should have had it all along, goes off alone back to her lover in the forest. There she has one blissful night of sex with her fairy tale prince when suddenly the ninjas attack the house.  Say what? I guess the ninjas knew where this guy lived all along, but never had a good reason to kill him before. Then we get this lovely night time battle scene in which the princess more than holds her own.  Guess who gets shot with the poison dart this time. Yep, her lover. He realizes that this attack means the bad guy has struck again, and she needs to get back to her kingdom to clean things up.  Off she goes.

As soon as she’s gone, he dies. The poison was much stronger and more effective this time. So, the love of her life is dead, gut she doesn’t know this yet. She has a kingdom to set right.

Meanwhile, back in the kingdom, the badguy waits just long enough for the good guys to let their guard down, then walks in with his army, catches them all singing kumbaya at a party, and kills all the wise old advisors except for the heroic prince/general who is rescued by his loyal men, and gets away. There’s a bad guy recently exiled, and yet the good guys don’t even set guards. I’m beginning to think everyone in this country is too dumb to live.

Reuniting with his forces in the countryside, our good guy hero realizes that he’s outnumbered by the bad guy’s army. Does he ride off into the countryside, rally the peasants, link up with the queen, and come back for vengeance. No, that’s too logical. He disperses the men he has and goes back to fight the usurper alone.

Guess what happens!  He attacks the army singlehandedly, does great feats of arms, and gets killed.  Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

Time to die now, hero. Yes, they gang up on him 100 to 1 and stab him in the back with a long spear. Once isn’t enough. It takes two or three times to kill him. But down he goes.

I don’t think I’ll tell you the stupid ending of this stupid movie. But, it’s a fairy tale, so  you know the bad guy gets what’s coming to him, and it’s not the throne.

Very pretty movie, very dumb movie

What I want to know is why would anyone make such a dumb movie when with just a little more effort they could have made a movie that makes sense?


Posted March 24, 2010 by atroll in Uncategorized

2 responses to “The Empress and the Warriors–silly movie

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  1. The story smacks of history made into an action flick.

  2. These themes, setting, era, etc. are the focus for a lot of films. I thought this was one of the weakest and didn’t compare well to others such as Hero, House of Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flowers, and Redcliff. To me it seemed like The Empress and the Three Warriors was more of a romance dressed up like an epic action movie. The plot certainly was full of holes and I pretty much agree with your assesment.

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