|Directed by||Daniel Lee|
|Produced by||Wang Tianyun
|Written by||Daniel Lee
|Music by||Henry Lai Wan-man|
Visualizer Film Productions
Shanghai Film Group
Mediacorp Raintree Pictures
Western Movie Group
Desen International Media
Beijing ShengShi Huarui Film Investment & Management
Donlord Skykee Film Investment
Shenzhen Shenguang Media
Beijing Fenghua Times Culture Communication
Beijing New Film Association & Movie Industry
Star Union International Media Group
China Broadcast International Media
|Distributed by||Arclight Films
14 Blades is a 2010 wuxia film directed by Daniel Lee and starring Donnie Yen, Zhao Wei, Sammo Hung, Wu Chun, Kate Tsui, Qi Yuwu and Damian Lau. The film was released on 4 February 2010 in China and on 11 February 2010 in Hong Kong.
During the late Ming Dynasty, the imperial court is plagued by corruption and the reigning emperor is incompetent. The Jinyiwei are the government's secret police, orphans trained in cruel clandestine combat since childhood, and serving the emperor only. The Jinyiwei commander, Qinglong (Donnie Yen), is given a mechanical box of 14 blades to help him in his duties. Jia Jingzhong, the royal eunuch, plots rebellion with the emperor's uncle, Prince Qing (Sammo Hung), who had been exiled for an unsuccessful rebellion.
Jia Jingzhong orders Qinglong to retrieve a safe box in the possession of the imperial councilor, Zhao Shenyan, whom he accuses of planning a revolt; Qinglong is told that the box contains proof of the councilor's treason. However, Qinglong soon discovers that the box actually contains the Imperial Seal, a symbol of the emperor's authority, which Jia Jingzhong needs to legitimize Prince Qing's authority. Qinglong is betrayed by his fellow Jinyiwei and his fellow officers are executed by his brother-at-arms, Xuan Wu, who pledges himself and the Jinyiwei to Eunuch Jia. Prince Qing's adoptive daughter Tuo-Tuo (Kate Tsui), a deadly warrior, arrives to lend her assistance on receiving news of Qinglong's escape. A fugitive Qinglong, unable to leave the city limits until his wounds heal, finds his way to the failing Justice Escort Agency, an agency providing armed guards. The owner eagerly accepts Qinglong's offer to pay him handsomely for safe passage in hopes of revitalizing his business. By coincidence, the owner's daughter, Qiao Hua (Zhao Wei), is engaged to be married, and the escort agency hides Qinglong within her wedding carriage as a means to avoid detection by the guards so they can leave the city.
When another group of Jinyiwei arrive in search of Qinglong, he fights and kills them, but in doing so reveals to his escorts that he is Jinyiwei himself. Fearing more trouble than they bargained for, the owner offers to return Qinglong's money and asks to be left in peace; however Qinglong is determined to fulfill his duty to the emperor and takes Qiao Hua as a hostage. The pair arrive at the city of Yanmen, where Qinglong hopes to gather information. He discovers that his enemies intend to sell three provinces to fund their cause. While Qinglong investigates and plots his next move, the duo encounter the Heaven's Eagles Gang, a group of bandits led by the self-proclaimed "Judge of the Desert". The leader is a strong warrior who fights Qinglong, proving that they are evenly matched. Qinglong proposes an alliance to raid the Yanmen outpost: the gang will get their full cut of the booty while Qinglong gets to satisfy his personal objectives. Standing in Qinglong's way are Jia Jingzhong's henchmen and his former Jinyiwei, who have come to broker a deal with the Yanmen leaders. Before the raid is executed, Eunuch Jia is betrayed and killed by Xuan Wu, who intends to directly serve under Prince Qing.
Qinglong and the Heaven's Eagles Gang successfully raid the outpost and kill most of the soldiers. Qinglong overcomes Xuan Wu in combat, but the latter escapes by yielding the Imperial Seal. Tuo-Tuo kidnaps Qiao Hua and demands the seal in return for freeing her. Qiao Hua is doubtful that Qinglong will make the trade, but Qinglong gives up the seal. However, he also makes it clear that he intends to take Qiao Hua to her fiance. Duty-bound to recover the seal, Qinglong leaves Qiao Hua, but she reunites with the Justice Escort Agency and they catch up with Qinglong, offering to assist with their superior knowledge of the roads. Separately, the Judge of the Desert realizes the importance of the Seal and leaves his gang to pursue the seal on his own.
Intercepting Tuo-Tuo, Xuan Wu, and Prince Qing's men at the ancient ruined Sky Wolves City, Qinglong draws Tuo-Tuo into chasing a disguised Qiao Hua. Subsequently, Xuan Wu and Prince Qing's men are split up and lured into an ambush set by the Justice Agency, and are defeated by Qinglong and the escort's men. Xuan Wu plays on Qinglong's guilt and mercy to escape execution, but then attempts to kill Qinglong when his back is turned, forcing his hand. Tuo-Tuo eventually catches up with Qiao Hua, but the Judge of the Desert intervenes. Realizing he is no match for Tuo-Tuo, the Judge sacrifices himself in combat to enable Qiao Hua to escape. After reuniting with Qinglong, he gives the seal to her and instructs her to bring it to the authorities to alert them of Prince Qing's conspiracy. Qiao Hua tells Qinglong she has declined her wedding proposal, suggesting she wants to be with Qinglong, but he believes he's likely to die; he tells her they will meet again if she rings a bell bracelet he had previously given her. Qinglong and Tuo-Tuo duel to the death in an abandoned temple. Eventually, Qinglong grabs hold of Tuo-Tuo and uses his box of 14 blades to kill both Tuo-Tuo and himself.
In the aftermath, Prince Qing's rebellion fails. He mourns for Tuo-Tuo's death and commits suicide before being brought to trial. Qiao Hua's father passes away and she inherits the Justice Escort Agency. During her travels, she frequently detours along the desert roads to remember her adventures with Qinglong. On one such foray, while looking across the desert with her spyglass and ringing her bell, she sees a man who appears much like Qinglong in the distance.
- Donnie Yen as Qinglong "青龍" or Azure Dragon. The four senior officers of the Jinyiwei are given the names of the Four Symbols in the Chinese constellations.
- Zhao Wei as Qiao Hua
- Sammo Hung as Prince Qing (special appearance)
- Wu Chun as Judge of the Desert
- Kate Tsui as Tuo-Tuo
- Qi Yuwu as Xuanwu "玄武" or Black Tortoise
- Damian Lau as Zhao Shenyan (guest appearance)
- Wu Ma as Qiao Yong
- Law Kar-ying as Jia Jingzhong
- Chen Kuan-tai as Fawang
- Chen Zhihui as Baihu "白虎" or White Tiger
- Fung Hak-on as advisor
- Xu Xiangdong as Xiahou
- Liu Zhuoling as servant
- Zhang Yujiao as Zhao Shouzheng
- Ding Wenbin as Jifeng
- Jin Laiqun as Zhuque "朱雀" or Vermilion Bird
- Qiu Bo
- Bian Yang
- Zhu Jiazhen
14 Blades was scheduled to start filming on 14 May 2009 in Ningxia, China. Donnie Yen stated that he took the role of a villain in the film as he "wanted to tackle the role of a villain who discovers his humanity."
14 Blades premiered in China and Singapore on 4 February 2010 and in Hong Kong on 11 February. The film premiered at the seventh place in the Hong Kong box office, grossing US$317,975 in its first week. It grossed a total of US$984,711 at the Hong Kong box office. The film was successful in Singapore where it was first in the box office on its second week, grossing a total of US$1,126,692 on its theatrical run. The film grossed a total of US$3,676,875 worldwide.
14 Blades was nominated for Best Action Choreography and Best Sound Design at the 29th Hong Kong Film Awards. The China Post praised Donnie Yen's acting ability and stated that the film was generally entertaining but criticised the action scenes, saying that "you never actually clearly see even one of the 14 blades. Unlike a really decent martial arts film, in which the battle scenes are well choreographed and you see the majority of the action, this film's fight scenes were only dynamic."
Many reviewers also criticised the film's heavy use of technology, including Kate Tsui's clothes-shedding technique. Film Business Asia gave the film a six out of ten, stating that 14 Blades has a "script that becomes increasingly incoherent and restless editing that grows more and more distracting" and that the action scenes were "largely dependant on wire-fu and CG...when [Donnie] Yen is allowed to show his skills properly...14 Blades starts to look like the film it could have been."
Variety called 14 Blades an "above-average martial-arts actioner that reinforces Donnie Yen's "Man with No Name" ambience... Despite the circumstances, Qiao Hua falls in love with her captor, a development made believable by Zhao's warm and affecting perf. [sic] Yen's Eastwood-like poise is used to good effect here, and the romantic tension keeps the narrative effectively taut between the battle sequences."
The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the film "would have ended a mediocre film if not for the inventively designed and utilized weaponry (especially the titular 14 blades with different functions)" and had mixed reaction to the acting in the film, asserting that Donnie Yen's "stiff and steely demeanor actually works to his role's favor. The love interest with Qiao Hua is lame, especially with Zhao sleepwalking through another typecast role as playful, tomboyish heroine."
Awards and nominations
- 4th China (Ningbo) Famers Film Festival
- Nominated: Best Action Choreography (Guk Hin-chiu)
- Nominated: Best Sound Design (Ken Wong and Phyllis Cheng)
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