Lionsgate // 2006 // 105 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Roy Hrab (Retired) // May 7th, 2010
"Tao minulle Sampo niin saat rakkaasi takaisin" = "Forge me the Sampo and you will get your loved one back"
Ever wonder what a Finnish wuxia film would look like? No? Well, that's too bad because that's what we have on our hands with Jade Warrior. Hopefully, I can do the film justice, but that will be a difficult task given that I found the plot almost incomprehensible.
In modern day Finland lives Kai the blacksmith (Tommi Eronen). He's apparently a poor blacksmith, having only gotten into the trade to impress his girlfriend (Krista Kosonen). Berg (Markku Peltola, The Man Without A Past), an antique dealer, is in possession of a mysterious iron container. Berg believes there is a connection between Kai and the case and brings it to the blacksmith. Kai is able to open the case, setting into motion a series of revelations that connects the events in modern Finland with ancient China.
Iron boxes. A Chinese demon. A reincarnated warrior. The "Kalevala" (an epic folklore poem of Finland). The "Sampo" (a mystical object that grants happiness to the person who possesses it). The gates of hell. Green CGI.
Jade Warrior brings all these disparate elements together to form a twisted story that barely makes any sense. So, needless to say, things go awry rather quickly in this bizarre little film. It all starts with the discovery that Kai is the reincarnation of Sintai (also Eronen) a Finnish-Chinese (!?) warrior from 2000 B.C. This finding sets up parallel storylines as the movie begins flashing forwards and backwards in time. The purpose of this is to explain some kind of legend. Unfortunately, it does not, especially when it comes to making a coherent connection between Finnish and Chinese mythology.
Instead, the film presents a few derivative martial arts scenes and much talk about the subtleties of iron forging. The fights in the ancient storyline are low budget versions of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. In the modern storylines, it's discount Matrix fisticuffs. The character of Berg is even dressed similar to Agent Smith. There are also a lot of shots of Kai brooding over his fire pit, somehow producing objects from his locked-up memories of a past life, such as a fan-like weapon and the Sampo, without any type of design plan and, even more amazingly, without any type of mould. It seems that he just has to blow some ashes away and things appear.
It all gets tedious and unfathomable within the first 30 minutes.
The performances are adequate. Eronen makes a good reluctant hero, although his constantly gloomy countenance gets to be too much by the end. The rest of the cast doesn't have much to do aside from shooting various glances to indicate their state of mind.
The technical aspects are serviceable. The audio is strong, capturing all dialogue, soundtrack and sound effects clearly. The video is similarly good for the most part, except that some of CGI is definitely below Hollywood quality.
The only extra of substance is a featurette on the film's digital effect, featuring a talk with the CGI crew.
If you can figure out what Jade Warrior is all about, let me know.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Finnish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG