Asian cinema has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts due to the global acclaim of such titles as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers.
However, for every Hero there are those titles that flatter to deceive, films that mean well but lack the execution to succeed when the endeavour is clear on screen.
Based on a short story by the prolific Japanese writer Yasushi Inoue, The Warrior and the Wolf tells the story of the Han Emperor who sent his army to the far Western border of China. In order to subdue rebellious tribes, and a land full of wolves, the army would have to endure harsh winters in the Gobi desert. After much bloodshed, Commander Lu and his men give up and begin a retreat.
Trapped by a blizzard, Lu (Joe Odagiri) commandeers a shack and finds a beautiful Harran widow (Maggie Q) who become embroiled a passionate affair.
Whilst the film is shot beautifully in the widescreen along with stunning battle scenes, the film in other areas feels lacklustre. The affair whilst full of passion, borders on rape as Lu becomes a wolf after much contact with them, as the widow clearly is not enjoying herself. It leaves an odd feeling in the mouth, and whilst the battle scenes are the only element of redeemable execution, it pales in comparison with recent work of 13 Assassins.
Directed by Tian Zhuangzhuang who had directed The Blue Kite, the expectation must have been high for a film of this calibre, along with the cast assembled, more a chance missed on this occasion.
The Warrior and the Wolf is released Monday 30th May from Universal indi Vision, priced £15.99(DVD) and £19.99 (Blu-Ray)