Well Go USA // 2011 // 108 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 2nd, 2012
From producer Jackie Chan, a movie that is not the type of movie you're probably expecting.
During the Song Dynasty, violence is the norm and no one know this terrible truth more than the hapless Yang Clan. All the Yang men are summarily wiped out in a massive battle against the corrupt ruler and his dark forces, prompting the remaining women to suit up and get nasty.
Each Legendary Amazon boasts a special skill, be it immense strength wielding dual hammers or a flawless range shooting with the "divine bow." They will have to call upon all these powers, when the heat is turned up and the battle cries beckon.
According to the back of the disc case, Legendary Amazons is based on a true story. These recent Chinese historical epics -- of which there seem to be a never-ending deluge -- play it fairly straight, opting to buttress the politics and character exchanges with sprawling battle scenes that are grounded in reality. Sure, once in a while we'll get a film that springs its warriors off of vaults and suspends them with wires, but Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon these pictures aren't.
Which is why I was genuinely surprised by how much Legendary Amazons embraced the wire-fu fantasy elements. From the start, this film went more comic book than history book, opening with a massive castle siege sequence, littered by dodgy CGI-powered rocks being catapulted at the walls, culminating in a big fight scene with full-on wire-supported pugilism. From there it's off to the introduction of our superheroines, a sequence which sports a video game vibe, reeling off their names in catchy fonts and outlining their various powers. It's all hyper-stylized, full of slow-mo action and bubblegum color schemes, an indicator of what's to come.
Make no mistake, there's plenty of action to be found in Legendary Amazons, but if you're looking for something down and dirty or even relatively rooted in real world physics, you'll come away sorely disappointed. When the massive battle sequences arrive, dudes (well, dudettes really) are flying around as if they're equipped with jet packs. The choreography is fantastically frantic, the focus being on eye candy and wire-assisted stunt-work, versus actual violence-fueled suspense.
Fans of Chinese history will be able to glean some education through the mayhem, but Legendary Amazons is primarily an action film. Normally, I'd be on board with this history-to-bad-ass-kung-fu ratio, but the martial artistry is so detached from reality I never felt plugged in. Again, I'm prejudiced against this crap, so if wire-fu or the sight of strong women sailing through the air and punching fools is your bag, there may be value here for you.
The good news is your ears and eyeballs will enjoy Well Go USA's Blu-ray treatment. Video flows through a 2.35:1/1080p HD transfer that looks so good it makes the CGI look so bad. The pull-back sweeping shots falter under the scrutiny of boosted resolution, but the tighter looks at ornate costuming and gaudy production design provide tasty visual treats. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio tracks (in original Mandarin and English dub) suitably transmit the frenetic battles, while pumping out a forgettably generic epic score. One bonus feature: an hour-long making-of documentary.
Not so legendary movie. Almost-sort-of-legedary Blu-ray.
Guilty. Sorry ladies.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Well Go USA
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (Mandarin)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Mandarin)
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated