Starring: Adam Cheng , Ekin Cheng, Wu Chun, Shao Bing, Leung Kar Yan.
Director Ronny Yu does not do many martial arts type movies, his last, Fearless starring Jet Li is possibly one of the best of its kind in the last 10 years. Saving General Yang does not reach those heights, but its is a very well made piece of historic storytelling.
Many films have been made about the Yang family generals, the most famous in the West is probably Lau Kar Leung’s fantastic 8 Diagram Pole Fighters and those familiar with that film will find points of reference in this one.
This is one of the legendary tales of Chinese folklore set during the Song Dynasty circa 986AD – the story focusing on General Yang and his seven sons battling with the Khitan army. The seven brothers must rescue their father after he is betrayed by a rival Song commander and who is captured behind enemy lines while battling a large Khitan invasion force led by Yelu Yuan, the vengeance-seeking son of an old enemy. This capture was a trap to lure the seven sons so they too can wiped out together with there leader.
General Yang is played by Adam Cheng in his first role in more than 10 years and does very well in the part. Ekin Cheng plays the oldest of the brothers and while the different brothers are not fleshed out that well, you get to side with them battling for survival. Seven will go and six will return is the prophecy the Yang mother gets to read and if you have seen any other version of this story you will know what it means.
The battle scenes are pretty brutal in there execution, choreographed by Tung Wei, done with some style but showing the horrors of the battle field. The action is slick and the final fight scene exciting and very well edited. Overall a decent basic retelling of the story, CGI is used sometimes unsuccessfully but the film succeeds in what it set out to do fairly well. Not a classic but definitely worth a watch.
The Blu ray released in Hong Kong has a gorgeous 1080p transfer, nothing bad to report here, very little DNR was noticed and colours were bold and blacks solid. Sound is given with a choice of Cantonese Dolby TrueHD 7.1or Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1. A very good soundtrack which comes to life during the many battle scenes, very well mixed. English and Chinese subtitles are provided. No grammatical errors were noticed. Sadly all the extras were without English subtitles but include a making of, interviews and trailers. The disc comes with a nice slipcover too. It is also ALL REGION.
DVD is also available, ALL Region, NTSC. Anamorphic widescreen, Cantonese / Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 with English and Chinese subtitles. Same extras.
7 OUT OF 10