8 April 2010

Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon

poster 3 Kingdoms Directed by Daniel Lee
Produced by Chung Taewon
Suzanna Tsang
Written by Lau Ho-Leung and Daniel Lee
Based on the classic novel of Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Andy Lau Tak-Wah - Zhao Zilong, a general of Shu-Han Kingdom
Sammo Hung Kam-Bo- Luo Ping-An
Maggie Q - Cao Ying, granddaughter of Cao Cao
Vanness Wu - Zhao Bao
Andy On - Deng Zhi

Music by Henry Lai
Distributed by Sundream Motion Pictures (Hong Kong)

Release date: April 2008
Running time: 102 min
Language: Mandarin
Budget: US$25 million


At the end of Later Han Dynasty (AD 25-220), there was an up-heaving Yellow Turban Rebellion of peasants and led to a warring state of warlords. The civil wars ended in the partition of China in three. The Han emperor became a puppet of Cao Cao, the warlord prime minister, who controlled the north-eastern of China. The southern China was controlled by the warlord Sun and the western China was occupied by the weaker warlord Liu Bei. By AD 220, the last Han emperor was forced to abdicated by the son of Cao Cao, who seized the throne and changed the name of the dynasty to Wei. Soon, Liu Bei, who had been claiming to be the descendant of the house of Han, proclaimed himself emperor and founded a new Shu-Han dynasty in 221. Later, Sun Quan also declared emperor and founded Wu dynasty in 222. The historians named this tripartite state — The Three Kingdoms Period (220-280).


In the beginning of the movie, Zhao Yun (styled Zilong : played by Andy Lau) joins the army of Liu Bei. In the advance of Cao Cao's army, Zhao Zilong shows his martial skills and sacked the headquarter of enemy's camp. Nevertheless, the outnumbered Liu Bei is forced to flee from central China. In the retreat to west , the wife and the baby son of Liu Bei are trapped by the pursuing Cao Cao's soldiers. Zhao Zilong volunteers to rescue the family of Liu Bei, but he only succeeds in saving the baby heir. Liu Bei's wife suicides. As a lone soldier, Zhao Zilong confronts Cao Cao's army and grabs Cao Cao's sword. He escapes with the sword and the baby before the astonishment of Cao Cao. Zhao Zilong becomes the renowned ever-winning general of Shu kingdom.

After many years, the baby heir succeeds Liu Bei. In the last campaign against Wei kingdom, Zhao Zilong leads the leading column but is blocked by the main forces of Wei that is under the command of Cao Ying, the granddaughter of Cao Cao (played by Maggie Q). Zhao Zilong retreats to a mountain fortress, waiting for the relief from the main forces of Shu. Unfortunately, the Shu armies are ambushed by Cao Ying. In the end of the movie, as the lone survivor of his army, the wounded Zhao Zilong charges alone into the horde of Shu soldiers and into long-lasting legend.


The movie mainly builds three characters — Zhao Zilong the legendary hero, Luo Ping-An (Sammo Hung Kam-Bo), the envious anti-hero, who betrayed Zhao Zilong, and Cao Ying, the ruthless granddaughter of Cao Cao, who has learned all the war tricks of the merciless Cao Cao. The straightforward plot is effective to tell a compelling story about the romantic rise and fall of a historical figure. The directorship of the movie joined the scenes seamlessly with a controlled tempo that might meet the expectation of Western viewers . The battle scenes were staged on a constricted terrain, so the camera was able to convene a real feeling of battle with less employment of extras.


[1] Zhao Yun's scholar name was Zi Long; Zi means young, little or son and Long means dragon.
[2] Andy Lau ranks among the five top actors with the biggest box-office in China in 2007.
[3] Maggie Q was born in Hawaii with a Polish Irish and Vietnamese heritage and moved to Hong Kong and Japan in 1998 to be a fashion model. Her original name is Margaret Denise Quigley but changed her name for the sake of Chinese viewers. She learned to speak some Cantonese and Mandarin. Recently she got a lead role in a Hollywood series.
[4] Update: Maggie Q starred as Nikita in CW's action thriller series "Nikita" in 2010. In January 2013, Maggie Q and the other cast came to Ontario for the shooting of the third season of "Nikita"; filming locations included Kingston and Toronto.

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