A kung fu thriller set during the Ming Dynasty and centered on a secret service agent (Donnie Yen) in the emperor’s court who is betrayed and then hunted by his colleagues.


“14 Blades” is a period thriller about a secret agent fighting betrayal among the Emperor’s Court. There are many Western elements, as well as some garish CG setdressing to make those landscapes seem that more impressive. I’ve missed Donnie Yen in these movies, but I can’t say that he impresses. Anymore, there is an overabundance of Asian leading men that can tackle these roads. The days of Tony Leung and his similar ilk are at an end. But, I don’t believe that it’s a bad thing.

Donnie Yen is a treasure, but he seems a little lost in this movie. The focus on the weaponry and Wuxia elements are much needed, but there comes a time when spectacle isn’t enough. I spent the second act of the movie lost in the double crosses and wondering what became of the main plot. Sure, the martial arts action is next to watch, but I need a plot to stay focused. Too often movies like this get dumped on the market with no sense of logical compass to keep the senses on the ball. Over stimulation is a film’s worst enemy, as the visuals can overload the narrative at times. The phenomenon is fascinating, but I can’t say it’s exclusive to this production.

The Blu-Ray comes with no special features. The A/V Quality is sharp for a period piece like this. The 1080p transfer shines, but pales when compares to a Zhang Yimou production. The DTS-HD 5.1 master audio track gets a lot of surround staging to develop. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase to genre fans.


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