For years Donnie Yen has been making his mark in the martial arts film world. While he has had appearance in a few US films like Blade II and Shanghai Knights he has never quite gotten the push he deserves here. Thankfully that hasn’t stopped him from being one of the top martial arts action stars in the world with epic films like the Ip Man series as well as to many more to name. Now Anchor Bay is bringing his 2010 hit 14 Blades to the US on Blu-ray and DVD giving fans yet another chance to check out this action icon do what he does best.
14 Blades follows a legendary royal guard-trained in a clandestine form of combat from childhood in order to devote his life to lethal prowess to the service of the Emperor. When the Imperial Court is taken over by an evil traitor this royal guard finds himself hunted by those he once trusted and must seek out and rally the loyalists to rise against the traitor and restore the Emperor to his rightful place. Much like most of these sorts of films it sets up the story with a narration and then takes the viewer right into this world. They have taken one of these stories that has been done numerous times and injected some fresh takes with nods to films like El Mariachi and Pirates of the Caribbean while still remaining original. Donnie Yen is great as always bringing his unique brand of martial arts to the forefront letting the weapons mastery take center stage this time around, but still bringing plenty of martial arts hand to hand sequences to keep the fans happy. Yen has a unique way of being a hardened warrior, while still showcasing a softer side, without ever really revealing either that makes for a complicated and interesting character. The rest of the cast do a great job with both the acting and the action to help round this film out including a small subtle, but powerful performances from martial arts icon Sammo Hung. One of the coolest aspects of this film is the special box of blades that Yen wields throughout the movie. Every time you think you have seen it all, he unleashes something else from it that steps the game up. The intricacies that the filmmaker put into the original weapons in these films is always amazing and this film is no different.
Visually this film also brings everything you could want in these epic Asian martial arts film and just adds to the overall finished product. There is a lot of use of open landscapes to give it an even bigger feel making for one of the better of this style of filmmaking in some time. While this film is an older one just making its way here, it still delivers everything you could want and is sure to be a must see for any fan of Yen and martial arts films.