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Original Title:
Yang Men Nu Jiang Zhi Jun Ling Ru Shan

China 2011


Frankie Chan

Cecilia Cheung
Richie Ren
Liu Xiaoqing
Cheng Pei-pei
Yu Xiao Ming
Yu Na
Kathy Chow
Yukari ‘shima
Jin Qiao-qiao
Ge Chun-yan
Zhou Xiao-fei

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Legendary Amazons

Story: War rages between the Song and Xia dynasty. Yang Zongbao (Richie Jen) is an exceptional warrior, who until now remained unbeaten in countless battles. But news of his dead spread quickly in the country and so the Yang clan is left almost without any male members now. Zongbao's wife Mu Guiying (Cecilia Cheung) can't believe that her husband is said to be dead but only little later the emporer sends a messenger who dispatches her son Wenguang (Xiao Mingyu) to the front in order to defend the country. Since Wenguang is without any special battle experience and the female members of the four generations of the Yang clan are exceptional martial arts experts the women decide to go into battle with Wenguang. But the army they have to face is ten times as big as theirs and support is not to be expected anytime soon. It doesn't take long until the bloody battles claim their first victims among the Yang clan...

Review: Sometimes it is truely infuriating what kind of movies get an international release. If you look at "Legendary Amazons" you might think that Asian cinema is still stuck where it was 40 years ago. Wait, that's not right, because in fact this is a remake of the Shaw Brothers classic "The 14 Amazons" of that time. And that one was tons better. What we get from this battle epic co-produced by Jackie Chan is a horrible soap opera drama, an awfully chaotic screenplay with even the more messy action, fathomless bad acting and an editor on speed. Therefore, the movie is almost entirely played with one and a half or rather double speed. At least this prevents anyone from falling asleep despite the boredom.

The story of the Yang clan has been brought to screen several times already and as sure as hell never as bad as this time. At any point in the film you can see that the actors are just acting - or are at least trying to. This makes the emotional moments become torturous, the filmmakers continuously try to convince us that we need to be sad about the death of a certain character but considering what feels like 100 female characters that die it also could be the same one over and over again, that is just how replaceable they are. At least we can distinguish some of them thanks to their weapons, but that's about that already. Oh yes, if not anyone else you can recognize veteran star Cheng Pei-pei. The rest is just some random beautiful women that we are supposed to believe to be fighters.

Cecilia Cheung could even deliver a better performance in "The Promise". Sure, after her scandal video it was quite difficult for her to get any role whatsoever but that this is really the same actress who played in "Failan"... Hard to believe. Apart from that she is way too young for the role of a mother. But that also applies to the whole clan. The grandmother is outrivaling almost any twenty-years old when it comes to the looks. Moreover, in most cases the woman-centered cast has the disadvantage that the fight scenes don't look that spectacular. Because the actresses apparently had a hard time the fights are played with double speed while the actual battle continues in the background on a green screen. Horrible.

What's really bad is the narration, though. With a breakneck pacing information is thrown at us every minute, but the worst thing is that we can still keep up with everything, that's how thin the screenplay actually is. It is also written very stupidly, thus prisoners escape the general by more or less just leaving his tent during a conversation! Elsewhere a gigantic army is just standing around without any reason whatsoever while their general fights against several enemies. The oh-so-smart tactics of the Yang clan are at times extremely ridiculous and careless so that we are even happy that most of them don't survive the battle. Just imagine they would bring children into the world! Furthermore, the terrible dialogues are really an insult to the intelligence of the viewer.

Oftentimes "Legendary Amazons" is so goony that it becomes unintentionally funny. The drama and the dialogues are awkward, the giant armies and the nonstop-action on the other hand are nice to look at. The film can without a doubt be entertaining if you are willing to check your brain at the door. But even then the screenplay proves to be too much of an imposition. Richie Ren ("Accident", "Breaking News") doesn't belong into this film as we associate too many less embarassing roles with him. The pretty high budget also doesn't fit to the cheap rest of the film. The best thing about this movie are the bloopers that we get to see when the credits roll and Richie Ren's swearing when his sword drops: "Ah, shit!" Yes, that's exactly what I thought when I had survived this 107 minutes of nonsense...

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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