This muscular Hong Kong actioner set against the backdrop of the 14-year Taiping Rebellion in 19th Century China is real feel-the-width stuff.
Loosely inspired by the ’73 Shaw Brothers classic The Blood Brothers, director Peter Chan assembles powerhouse trio Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro as comrades united in blood (not theirs but that of some unfortunate randoms) and pledged to fight for the Qing dynasty during a string of monumental sieges. There’s neither chop nor socky in sight, but there are scenes of trench and battle warfare to rival any World War Two film.
Handsomely mounted as it is, it’s a bit on the stodgy side. Romance inevitably causes a rupture in the trio, but as time grinds by, your interest is also bound to buckle.