Set in the era of Han Dynasty's reign in China, Huo An (Jackie Chan)
heads the Silk Route protection squad - an armed group that guards the
Northwest border of the region. Falsely framed under smuggling charges,
the law decrees him to re-fortify a dilapidated city. Fate drives Roman
General Lucius (John Cusack) and his platoon for shelter with Huo and an
uncanny friendship blooms between the two men separated by ethnicity,
but brought together by destiny. Lucius has fled his homeland following a
coup and seeks Huo's help to save the crown prince Publius (Jozef
Waite) from the evil designs of his treacherous brother Tiberius (Adrien
is a pleasant surprise, executed with visible grandeur and can claim to
be an earnestly performed, crisply edited, smart fare. The movie
primarily invests in attaining technical finesse to remain close to the
widely understood connotation of commercial cinema. Forgoing the attempt
to explore the frictional intricacies of Silk Route, the film's slim
understanding of its setting shows starkly in its tendency to avoid a
political comment. But, what works in its favour is the satiating
after-feeling which gives you bang for the buck.
Director Daniel Lee waives his curlicue tendencies and constructs a
film that is strongly rooted in emotional drama and has the brisk
deftness of a thumping action-flick. It has stellar stunts,
choreographed to perfection, bringing in Asian infantry that is
two-millennia old along with Western cavalry of the same time, mixing it
up with staple Kung-fu moves.
Drawing its fuzziness from the
pulsating drama, Cusack and Chan astutely portray their camaraderie. The
actors bring forth the anguish of their characters profoundly with
minimal words. Cusack adds gravitas to Lucius, bringing a stoic feel to
him. Chan is intense, displaying an unusual energy. The Roman-Sino
bonding is beautifully depicted, especially in a scene that has soldiers
from either sides engaging in a drill duel.
Of all of Chan's
recent escapades, this is the only one that not only lives up to his
desired ambitious streak but also has a warm touch to it.