A while ago I noticed something weird in my TV-guide: a Finnish wuxia movie called “Jade Warrior”. I was pretty confident that this was a unique combination so I watched it and figured I might as well write a review about it here.
The basic premise is this: A young Finnish man discovers he’s the reincarnation of a warrior who lived in China, thousands of years ago.
OK, as plot’s go, this one seems a bit far fetched but it’s actually not as bad as it sounds. The whole reincarnation thing isn’t my cup of tea but if you can get past that, you’ll enjoy the rest of the movie.
The movie starts with the young man’s girlfriend ditching him and then things slowly start rolling. With a bunch of flashbacks the story moves along so you only get to see the bigger picture one piece at a time. Which isn’t bad per se but it does take some getting used to. The movie then builds to a climax and ends perhaps a bit too abruptly.
Here’s the trailer:
What I didn’t enjoy:
- The story is sometimes hard to follow and a couple of twists are too obvious for my taste.
- The way the demon was handled. Meh…
- The scene of the girlfriend working out in the boxing gym. OK, I get it: cute girl punching the bag and sweating. But it really didn’t do a thing for the movie.
Some of the things I liked:
- The references to the Finnish national poem (“Kalevala“) and blending it with Chinese mythology. That’s a really cool and innovative blend.
- The understated fight scenes. They’re set up so the action is part of the story and not a goal in and of itself. As the movie wasn’t made in Hong Kong or Hollywood, the fight scenes have a different yet still recognizable quality to them. Overall, the fights aren’t nearly as spectacular as they could have been. But I like the fact that they downplayed things a bit.
- Gorgeous scenery, camera and lighting. I particularly enjoyed the scene where the smith is at work and the camera whirls around him, sparks all over the room like fireflies.
Overall, I recommend the movie. It’s not a masterpiece but it has a refreshing and new way about it. Its slower pace is actually a breath of fresh air in all that Hollywood-type manic movie work.
If you’re looking for the same old kung fu movie, let this one pass you buy.
If you want to see a movie that does the best it can and has a unique take on the genre, give “Jade Warrior” a try.