Monday, June 26, 2017

"Warlords" (2010): Movie Review

Mr. P.'s Grade: A/A-

Based on the true story of the life of General Pang before he was mysteriously assassinated in 1870, the movie's three main parts provides reflection for military ethics:

1) Even after betrayal by another general, Pang returns to battle his enemies by joining 2 other leaders thus demonstrating virtues of honor and loyalty.  A blood pact is formed among the 3 such that when one harms the other, that one deserves death.

2) After victoriously taking on a force of 4000 with a mere 800, Pang and his blood brothers demonstrate their courage in the face of overwhelming odds.  Yet they are victorious after a few men lead a suicidal front line charge.  The suicide unit provided a glimer of hope for victory.  Later, however, in the next great battle with more troops and fresh supplies, the issue of killing 4000 combat troops that surrender was depicted.  Pang said that they were soliders, and his army only had food for themselves, so he wanted to kill them all.  But if just war doctrine means that surrendered soliders are noncombatants as part of jus in bello criteria, then an alternative to mass killing surrendered soliders should have been examined.  One of the blood brothers protests to keep his word, but 2 of the brothers overrule him, not without resentment on the protesting brother's part.  This forms the backdrop to the final scene.

3) Pang betrays his brother's by pursuing an illicit relationship with one of their mistresses, and she is later killed as a threat to the blood brotherhood.  I was grateful that physical intimacy scenes were not needed to advance the plot.  She bears a Cross around her neck that was found off of a dead solider.  Pang also has one of his blood brothers killed.  The movie's thesis is that political motives led to the eventual death of Pang, aided by the surviving blood pact brother.  By the end of the movie, Pang asks the other blood brother to quickly kill him as he lay dying by gunshot wounds.  This request seems a redemptive value and growth in one of the main characters, Pang.  With this, he seems remorseful displayed honor to his word.

As a side note, Jet Li's acting was superb.

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