The story (a missed opportunity is there ever was one) is loosely based on a lost Roman legion in China that had to fight their way through enemy territory to safety, much like the classic film The Warriors.
Here, the movie centres around Huo An (Chan) and his elite group of peacekeepers known as the Silk Road Protection Squad, designated to keep the international trade route in China open. Set up for a crime he didn't commit, he and his men are sentenced to heavy labour, rebuilding a remote outpost known as Wild Geese Gate.
It’s here, General Lucius (Cusack) and his renegade army on the run from Consul Tiberius (Brody), who killed his own father and blinded his younger brother in order to prevent him from taking the throne that Lucius who has sworn to protect the younger sibling with his life, meet An in a trial-by-combat fight where they become friends and join forces against Tiberius' 100,000 strong approaching army.
Chan is in full form here, ranging from comedic to dramatic moments. Even in his early 60’s, having almost broken every bone in his body, he demonstrates what a true, amazing talent he really is.
The movie's main problem is it really doesn't know what it wants to be; starting out as a comedy then becoming dramatic. Too many flashbacks break the rhythm of the film, as well as confuse the viewer in its time frame. Peng Lin as Cold Moon and An's semi-love interest, is quite stunning and great on the screen. Brody's Tiberius, played with sinister cruelty, is impressive, but lacks major screen time to be an effective antagonist. Cusack as Lucius is an interesting choice, but seems out-of-place. The worst actress in the film is Lorie Pester portraying the Parthian Queen. A former ice skating star, she is stunning and regal in appearance, but as soon as she opens her mouth, she sounds like a Valley Girl channelling Vera Hruba Ralston (from Republic Pictures fame).
Originally, Dragon Blade had a wrap-around story about modern day, archaeologists discovering this event, and at the end then decide to keep the find a secret. Wouldn't an archaeologist’s job be to report a historical find and not neglect it? Thankfully, this was cut from the final print as it made no sense at all.
There are some bright moments in the movie but, sadly, Dragon Blade is unfulfilling as a whole. For Jackie Chan completists only.
CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: DANIEL LEE / STARRING: JACKIE CHAN, ADRIEN BRODY, JOHN CUSACK, PENG LIN / RELEASE DATE: TBC
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10