Saam gwok dzi gin lung se gap

(Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon) (2008)

 

 

 

Director:     Daniel Lee. 

Starring:    Andy Lau (Zhao Zilong),  Sammo Hung Kam-Bo (Luo Ping-An),  Maggie Q (Cao Ying),  Vanness Wu (Zhao Bao),  Andy On (Deng Zhi),  Rongguang Yu (Han De),  Quanxin Pu (Zhuge Liang),  Lung Ti (Guan Yu),  Hua Yueh (Liu Bei),  Chen Zhi Hui (Zhang Fei),  Damian Lau (Cao Cao).

a story of a fantastic warrior of the Shu Kingdom and his less accomplished friend who keep on fighting only to find themselves going around in circles

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

In winter a man looks out over the battlefield littered with dead men and horses.  He says:  "I vow to guard Phoenix Heights to my death."  A woman with troops behind her says:  "I vow to capture Zilong alive today."  The two sides prepare to do battle. 

Flashback.  Pingan has chosen to join Liu's forces.  It is there he meets Zilong.  His home village is Changshan and he has been away from there for almost two years.  Pingan signs Zilong up to join the army.  From there Zilong is sent to the front lines of Liu's forces.  The opposing Cao's army is a lot stronger and very determined to eliminate Liu.  Liu tries to quickly shore up the fortifications while they wait for reinforcements. 

Cao's army approaches.  Someone says:  "When the fort falls, annihilation follows."  A wooden box was left outside the front gate along with someone sent by Lord Liu.  Pingan opens the wooden box.  It is filled with human ears ripped from the dead.  The man sent by Lord Liu knows that there are about 10,000 troops in Cao's army and they will attack tomorrow.  But, the stranger says, Lord Cao is afraid of someone in our army.  Liu's military advisor, Zhuge!  And the stranger is the military advisor. 

Zhuge tells the men they must give up the camp if they are to live.  Moreover, they will attack the enemy this very night!  The troops are a bit worried since they only have 1,000 men.  Zhuge tells them that they will get into position before it starts raining.  490 men will form the Dragon Unit and they will wait in ambush at the left of Cao's camp.  Another 490 will be the Tiger Unit and they will wait in ambush at the right of Cao's camp.  The 20 remaining soldiers will form a commando unit. When the storm comes and the enemy is in disarray, they will cut down the enemy's general 'sflag, which in turn will sap the enemy's will to fight. 

Zilong and Pingan are in the commando unit.  They put on masks and charge the enemy's camp.  Pingan goes after the camp leader.  Zilong has to come help him, since the leader is no pushover.  Together they kill the leader.  They behead him, ride up to a small hill and then show Cao's troops the leader's head.  And now the Dragon and Tiger units go to the attack. 

Phoenix Heights.  The defeat of Cao's forces enrages Cao, so he leads a massive army and chases Liu with his soldiers to Phoenix Heights.  Liu's two blood brothers, Generals Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, covered the people's retreat.  Zilong let Pingan have all the credit for dispatching the Cao vanguard leader, so he is assigned to watch over Liu's family who are being carried in a wagon.  He sends Zilong to help with the refugees. 

A Cao army unit starts to descend on the Liu family wagon.  Liu is informed that Cao's army will soon be here.  In spite of the fact that the family is still outside the gate, Liu orders that the gates be closed.  Pingan manages to struggle back just before the gates are closed.  Zilong helps him along. The advisor demands to know from Pingan where are the two wives and the son?  Pingan hangs his head and says he lost them. 

Brother Zhang Fei charges Pingan to kill him, but Zilong blocks the thrust of the weapon with his own weapon.  The two men fight each other with their weapons.  Since brother isn't doing too well another  joins in the fight against Zilong.  But Zilong holds off both of them until Liu stops the fight.  Liu congratulates Zilong on his outstanding performance.  Zilong says on behalf of Pingan he will go out and find the young Lord. 

The two generals with the help of other soldiers attack a unit of Cao's army, while Zilong peals off to find the young Lord.  He finds the two wives dead, but the baby is still alive.  Zilong ties the baby to his back and sets out for home. 

Cao tells his little granddaughter, Cao Ying, that one day she shall be a military leader.  Therefore, she needs to study the art of war. 

On his way back with the baby, Zilong is cornered by Cao's army.  He fights like a wild man.  He gets slashed with a sword, but keeps on fighting. 

Watching the struggle, Cao tells his granddaughter that there is no mercy in war.  He orders a chariot be send out to capture Zilong, but Zilong just captures the chariot and rides off with it.  His horse catches up with the chariot and Zilong jumps on and rides away.  He is pursued but the horse makes a spectacular jump over a gap in the mountains.  The archers want to kill Zilong, but Cao stops them, saying he wants Zilong captured alive. 

Zilong killed so many of Cao' men that he made a name for himself.  His friend, who wants to be famous in battle, is envious of him.  And, finally, Changshan has its hero.  He returns there in triumph.  They show him a shadow puppet performance of Zilong's feats.  A woman looks out from behind the screen to get a look at Zilong.  He looks at her. She becomes so distracted that she spoils the performance.  The master is furious with her, but Zilong says these things happen.  The performance resumes and the woman gives a big sigh of relief as she finishes the enactment.

The woman cooks for Zilong.  She wonders when she will ever see him again.  He says that Liu tells the men that one day the states will be united and then the soldiering will be over and he will come back for her, never to be separated again. 

Pingan says that Zilong never lost a battle against Cao's army and became one of the five Tiger Generals.   All three warlords wished to become the Emperor of a unified China.  Liu became the Emperor of his newly founded Shu Kingdom.  Guan Yu is put in charge of 100,000 troops to guard against Sun of the Eastern Kingdom of Wu.  Zhang Fei is also given command of 100,000 troops.  His job is to guard against Cao of the Northern Kingdom of Wei.  General Ma will lead 50,000 troops to guard Xichuan . General Huang has command of 50,000 troops to guard Zhongjun.  General Zilong will lead the rest of the army on an expedition north against Cao. 

Over the next twenty years the five Tiger Generals fought the state's enemies.  The generals fell one by one in battle, until the only one left was Zao Zilong. Emperor Liu dies.  New generals have to be appointed.  The sons of Guan Yu and Zhang Fei are made generals.  They will lead still another northern expedition against Cao.  At the ceremony the two generals fight each other to prove who is the better warrior.  Zilong arrives and puts a stop to the fight.  He then demands that, despite his older age now, the Prime Minister allow him to go on the northern expedition.  Zilong says this will be his last battle.  He also vows to unite the country for Liu's Kingdom. 

Pingan is going to go on the northern expedition, too.  He has not served in the same unit as his friend Zilong ever since Zilong became a general.  But Pingan has watched Zilong's success from a distance.  Pingan sees Zilong personally again.  He tells Zilong that they have known each other for thirty-two years and four months.  And, since the northern expedition will be Zilong's last battle, Pingan asks to be allowed to finish this last mission together with him. 

Coming to a fork in the road, Zilong opens a pouch with his orders.  He is to split the army into two groups that will go their separates ways.  Then all troops will proceed together to seize Cao's six counties.  Cao sends Guan and Zhang off with their part of the army.    Zilong proceeds ahead.  He soon runs into the Cao army under General Han.  The general sends his four sons out to fight Zilong by themselves and Zilong kills all of them.  But during the fighting an archer shoots an arrow at Zilong that seems to find its mark.  A soldier reminds General Han that the commander demands that he follow the battle plan.  The Cao army turns around and leaves. 

The commander is now Cao Ying, the granddaughter of Cao.  She set a trap for Zilong.  As Zilong's troops pursue General Han, they run into an ambush.  Their only exit is westward to Phoenix Heights.  Zilong gives the order to withdraw to Phoenix Heights.  At Phoenix Heights Zilong opens a second pouch.  It has a message congratulating Zilong on successfully diverting the Cao army allowing the two other generals to invade and conquer the six counties.  Zilong is crushed to learn he has been just a diversion for the main attack. 

Zilong brings his troops to Phoenix Heights.  Cao Ying gives instructions that her forces in the six counties adopt a defensive strategy only.  This will give them time to destroy Zilong and his army, which will then demoralize the other forces of the Shu Kingdom.  Cao Ying gives the order to use the cavalry and attack immediately. The battle starts. 

Cao Ying comes out from her wagon.  Zilong has won the first round.  Cao Ying says they should never have underestimated Zilong.  She has the bodies of the dead Shu warriors send back to Zilong.  The Shu officers agree this was done deliberately to demoralize the Shu warriors.  Zilong has a gift sent to Cao Ying for her "kindness".  It is a sword of Cao Cao, the grandfather of Cao Ying, the sword Zilong had captured in battle long ago.  Envoy Pingan gives the woman warrior the message that Zilong suggests she be careful not to repeat the mistakes of the past and lose her grandfather's sword again to him. 

Now Cao Ying challenges Zilong to a duel.  Zilong decides to take the duel as a means of delaying the attack until reinforcements arrive for his army.   Face to face, Cao Ying tells him there will be no aid coming for him from Guan and Zhang.  She says:  "I wished to return the remains of Guan and Zhang to you but what was left of them were bits and pieces far beyond recognition."  She says Liu's Kingdom will become part of Cao's Kingdom soon.  

The duel on horseback begins.  Zilong knocks off her helmet.  Cao Ying jumps on the back of his horse and then off again. They continue the fight on the ground.  Two of Cao Ying's soldiers jump in the fight only to be killed by Zilong.  But in that process he loses his long pole.  Pingan comes riding out and throws Zilong his bow (but no arrows).  Cao Ying cuts the bow string.  Zilong responds by bending the bow around him and then releasing one end of it to slap Cao Ying to the ground.  He then grabs a long pole and sets up the kill.  He does not kill her.  He tells her that her skill does not match that of her grandfather.  She should come back when she is ready.  Cao Ying is furious. 

Back with her army, she notices that she was slightly wounded on her neck.  But when Zilong returns he nearly collapses.  That's when Pingan discovers the arrow still stuck in Zilong's side.  Zilong refuses to remove his armor.  He does not want his men to know that he has been wounded.  Alone with Pingan, Zilong gives him back the map Pingan gave him long ago.  And he says long ago they thought they would help bring peace to their country and yet here they are still fighting. 

The armies fight it out on Phoenix Heights.  Zilong watches the battle.  A series of explosions rips into the forces of General Han.  Zilong's second in command and General Han kill each other in battle.  (With a cross bow, Cao Ying tried to kill General Han for his failure, but she missed.) 

Back to the present.  Pingan informs his friend Zilong that it was he who informed to Cao's army and helped Cao Ying to lead Zilong to Phoenix Heights.  They promised to make him a general in Cao's army. Pingan says what he fought for was himself.  But he has nothing to show for his efforts.  Zilong tells Pingan that they have both been going around in circles.  There still is only war and battle.  He has Pingan help him take off his armor.  Pingan pulls out the arrow for him.  Zilong tells Pingan that he will always be his beloved brother. 

Zilong gets on his horse to head into battle by himself.

Pingan says that was the last time he saw Zilong.  Years later the three Kingdoms were united into one, but under a new "Jin" Dynasty.  "How many things before and after all melt into gossip and laughter." 

    

Good movie.  It really is an anti-war film.  The period of the Three Kingdoms was one of nearly constant war.  The hero Zilong had said he wanted to fight for victory to bring peace to his land and then start a family.  But this was not to be.  The theme is war as running around in circles constantly fighting without end.  Great battle scenes.  There is a lot of blood and hundreds of killing scenes.  There was no love story in this film and only one woman with a respectable amount of time on the screen.  And she is the evil warrior Cao Ying (played by the beautiful-faced Maggie Q). 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

221-206 BC  --  the reign of the Qin Dynasty.  

206 BC -220 AD -- reign of the Han Dynasty

184  --  uprising of the Yellow Turbans.   This is said by many to be the start of the Three Kingdoms period. Zhang Jiao led a religious sect (the Way of Peace) that waged a year long revolt against the Han Empire. The revolt devastated northern China and the Han Empire. The Way of Peace was primarily composed of poor farmers suffering under a corrupt government system. The rebellion ended when Zhang Jiao died of illness.

190 to 220   -- there was a lot of chaotic infighting between warlords.

220-280 AD  --  reign of the Three Kingdoms.  The three kingdoms were Wei, Shu and Wu.  This period was one of the bloodiest in Chinese history.  A large percentage of the population were wiped out. 

220-263 a period of a somewhat militarily stable arrangement between the three rival states.

220  --  the foundation of Wei. 

263-280 period marked by the collapse of the tripartite arrangement.

263 the destruction of Shu by Wei.

265 the overthrow of Wei by the Jin Dynasty.

265-420  --  reign of the Jin Dynasty

280 the destruction of Wu by by the Jin Dynasty.

 

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