Pang also receives an intimate look into the villager's plight. When army marauders ransack the townspeople, he defends them. The general is welcomed as a member of their brotherhood by the village leaders known as the blood brothers. In order to replenish his ranks, Pang convinces the bandit leaders to join the professional army. In return, his new friends will have the opportunity to feed their families rather than having to rely on scavenging for food. Feeding one’s family offers a dignity to a warrior that is irreplaceable.
Pang rides out with Zhang and Zhao Er-Hu (Andy Lau). Their mission has humble beginnings. The general must sacrifice the majority of his conscripted men (gathered from the military leaders that serve as a sort of elderly intelligentsia) in order to win his first major victory. His success convinces the reluctant leaders to continue granting him more troops and supplies despite their limitations in recruiting and war materials. This begins an obsessive quest to stomp out the Taiping rebels and their influence throughout China. Their historic journey lasts years and it consumes their minds, their friendship, and ultimately their lives.
The Warlords is an heroic epic in the vein of a Braveheart, or a Kingdom of Heaven. Jet Li, Andy Lau, and Takeshi Kaneshiro are fantastic. Martial arts fans might feel slighted at the scant amount of traditional fighting scenes, but the intricate battles portrayed will more than make up for any loss of hand-to hand combat action. Jet Li has proven himself an expert with traditional weapons in addition to his brilliant martial arts choreography. With such a commander plotting sieges and medieval battles, The Warlords is surely a movie to pay careful attention to.
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