" He’s in a gunfight right now, I’m gonna have to take a message "
Under Siege

MRQE Top Critic

Noi Albinoi

Mystery and ambivalence about this Bleak portrait of isolation are amplified on DVD —Marty Mapes (DVD review...)

Noi the Albino spends winter in Iceland alone

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Zu Warriors is a straight-to-video release, at least here in the U.S. That was the first bad sign, and I should have paid more attention. Instead, I was wowed by the impressive pedigree of talent it boasts: Tsui Hark directs; Yuen Wo-Ping provides the choreography; Zhang Ziyi and Sammo Hung have small roles in the film as well. And, if that weren’t enough, the movie has some astounding computer-generated special effects that are so well polished they’re slick.

Cool costumes are no match for a bad script
Cool costumes are no match for a bad script

All of which goes to show just how important a good script is. Zu Warriors is so convoluted, with such little regard for character or motive that it’s a wonder I stayed awake for the whole thing, in spite of the star power and slick effects.

The plot is the Chinese equivalent of an Olympian power play, with a Chinese Zeus, Vulcan, and Athena meddling in the affairs of mortals. The problem is not so much that you can’t tell what’s happening, as you can’t understand why these characters — immortal or otherwise — are doing what they do. If they don’t care what their motivation is, why should we?

The list of talent involved only makes the movie more disappointing, while the computer-generated special effects are no more interesting than the “visualizer” setting on iTunes.

Only for one brief scene did I sit up and take notice. It’s an honest-to-goodness swordfight, toward the end of the picture, with only a minimal amount of computer fakery. It’s the only scene in the whole film that relies more on talent, choreography, acting, and grace, than on some computer-generated nonsense.

Miramax was right to shuffle Zu Warriors off to the DVD wasteland.