14 Blades (UK - DVD R2)
Our Marcus wonders if 14 blades is maybe a little too many to carry around?
Secret service agent Qinglong (Donnie Yen) becomes a fugitive after he discovers the corruption from Prince Qing's (Sammo Hung) rebellion against the Emperor.
I seem to have watched a fair few movies from Eastern cinema of late (including Mulan, Assassins and Bodyguards and Invisible Target) and I don’t know if it’s just me but they all feel a little bit like they’re running out of steam, or at least just going through the motions.
14 Blades really just coasts though what we’ve all come to expect from these Chinese historical epics. The lone warrior with the cool moves, protecting the locals, falling in love with someone he probably shouldn't and getting into fights against the bad guys who have the numerous cannon fodder soldiers to throw at our hero.
Donnie Yen does a good job offering us a lead who seems a little deeper than the run of mill plot and his love interest Wei Zhao is a fine counterpoint and offers up another solid performance, but even with these at the forefront and a badass female assassin Tuotuo (Kate Tsui) on their trail, nothing really kept me involved for the duration and I found my mind wandering between the slick, showy fight scenes that had “cool” down to a fine art.
Having seen Mulan and Assasins and Bodyguards in HD recently, the chasm between standard DVD and kick-ass Blu-ray was very noticeable. The 14 Blades image is not all that sharp and despite the odd bold red in the colour palette, it looks a little dull and samey. There’s the odd bit of edge haloing and even though details in skin textures and etched armour look good, the transfer is just a little too soft to really sell it.
Now admittedly the majority of my movie watching is in HD now, so I’m probably being a little harsh in my opinions on the 14 Blades transfer. It does manage some pretty good looking shots in the exterior scenes and it’s a good leap away from the what I’d consider a bad transfer but the limitations of standard definition really shows up here and it really comes down to knowing how much better certain elements could look (mainly down to the level of detail in costumes and set design) when given the full 1080 to breath in.
The DTS track offers up quite a punchy atmospheric experience. There’s quite a traditional score that comes with a solid level of bass and a good use off all the speakers. Sound effects such as the scraping of metal on metal or the unsheathing of swords are all well presented and there’s a good amount of variation to the fight scenes offering quite a few different feels to the action.
The only really grumble is the terrible dialogue dub. It seems to be the actors' voices but the over dub is always that couple of nanoseconds out of sync and frankly it just comes off as a little weird for the most part.
Kicking off the disc are trailers for The Collector and The Disappearance of Alice Creed (both of which look pretty good).
The making of (20:50) takes itself pretty seriously and shows plenty of on-set footage and the trailer (02:37) makes the movie look a whole lot more fun than it actually is.
14 Blades has its moments for sure (mostly revolving around the Assassin Tuotuo, who really owns all of her scenes), but I may have watched one too many mediocre Eastern Epics in a small space of time and I need one of them to offer up something new or provide a fresh angle because everything is feeling a little safe and uninspiring of late.
The disc offers up an okay transfer with a solid DTS track but with the relatively lacklustre features on offer, this release ends up being pretty underwhelming.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 16th August 2010
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: DTS 5.1 Chinese Dolby Digital 2.0 Chinese
Extras: Making Of, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Daniel Lee
Cast: Donnie Yen, Wei Zhao, Sammo Hung
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama and War
Length: 108 minutes
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