It seems everyone’s into Qin dynasty China action flicks these days. Jackie Chan’s newest flick might be unique in that it belnds a modern story with costume drama. Jackie plays an archaeologist living in a swank boat house in the middle of some Hong Kong harbor who has recurring dreams of being a Qin dynasty general fiercely loyal to the Qin emperor. One of his missions is to bring home a Korean princess (played by Korean star Jin Xishan) to be the emperor’s concubine, and whaddya know, they fall in (forbidden) love.
Whether these are just figments of Jackie’s imagination, or events that really did happen in a past life, you don’t know until the end — and we have to say, despite the usual cliches the way that the two stories are finally combined and resolved is fairly interesting. There’s the usual hokum, such as when Jackie, along with friend William (Liang Jiahui) go to some vaguely Indian kingdom where they get into trouble, kick some ass, face death, and find themselves in the company of scantily clad Indian hotties that can fight in saris and pushup bras. There’s of course also the bad guy dedicated to finding the elixir for eternal life, but he of course gets his comeuppance just as his goal is within grasp.
There’s really no point in being critical about this film, it’s boilerplate, but that doesn’t not make it a guilty pleasure worth pursuing for two hours. You want an incorruptible hero, you want a beautiful heroine that waits for her man, you want a little betrayal and redemption between friends, you want a sappy mandopop soundtrack, you want Jackie’s reduced bag of wily fighting tricks — you got it all, in dollops. The cinematography isn’t up to Oscar nomination snuff, but like most Jackie Chan films there are plenty of exotic locales suitablｙ enhanced with CG effects which makes the whole suspension of disbelief thing a bit easier. All in all, not a bad way to spend a couple hours. The only thing that slightly bugged us was Jackie’s Chan’s spiel about not stealing cultural relics from other countries and putting them in your own museum, and that which this implies — loyalty to the country, and in the case of the Qin dynasty story, loyalty to the emperor against all the traitors and conspirators out there with the objective of regime change. Jackie’s always been a bit preachy about that, but it is, like the man himself, getting kind of old. Jackie keeps talking about his impending second career as a dramatic actor, and he’s moved about an inch closer to that goal with this movie.