Female warriors put up a fight
THE story of the Yang family of female warriors in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) has been adapted into television shows, stage productions and anime. The latest film version "Legendary Amazons" grabs a hold of you and doesn't let go with creative fighting scenes and a breathtaking pace.
Directed by Frankie Chan, who is well known for his melancholy scores in Wong Kar-wai's movies and choreographing martial arts scenes, the film is set in 11th century China. The story centers on a group of widows from the Yang family who go into battle to protect their country from the rival state of Western Xia.
The female generals and warriors, including the family's 100-year-old grandmother, widows, sisters and young maids, each have a unique combat ability and talent, which makes the team gear up for the new challenges.
The film budgeted at US$20 million is produced by kung fu star Jackie Chan. Its main battle scenes were shot in the sandy Ordos desert of China's Inner Mongolia. Most of the intense fight scenes also feature new weapons, tactics and stunts such as giant fire balls and flying pepper lamps.
Hong Kong singer-actress Cecilia Cheung's fierce warrior Mu Guiying is another highlight of the movie. Before Mu marries Yang Zongbao, a general, she is a valiant bandit.
Chan, also an actor, screenwriter and producer, says there is a remarkable similarity between Mu and Cheung - both have a strong heart despite hardships in life.
Cheung, a mother of two who has recently ended a five-year marriage with actor Nicholas Tse, also told media that she was impressed by the courage and perseverance of Mu after she falls in love with the general.
"The character's independence, bravery and caring for her child are likely to resonate in the hearts of today's modern women," Cheung says.
Although many movie buffs say the film's score and fight scenes are excellent, some say the plot is too simple and doesn't stay true to history. Some say the female warriors look too similar to Cosplay and online game characters.
The film has both English and Chinese subtitles. It is now facing competition from another costume drama "White Vengeance," which is based on the story of the Banquet at Hongmen, an important event during the fall of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC).