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DVD Movie Review: Brotherhood of Blades II: The Infernal BattlefieldBy devidise At 15.04.2018 16:36

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Brotherhood of Blades II: The Infernal Battlefield (UK Rating: 15)

Technically speaking, Brotherhood of Blades II: The Infernal Battlefield is a wuxia film. For those not in the know (like certain folk reviewing this previously weren't…), wuxia means martial heroes, and according to Wikipedia, it is about martial arts fighting in ancient times. While that does adequately sum up Brotherhood of Blades II - out now on DVD via Thunderbird Releasing - it misses what makes the film really stand out. While most of its fights are rather boring, the conspiracy occurring beneath them is actually pretty interesting.

The film centres around Shen Lian, an imperial guard and former soldier who finds himself wrapped up in a conspiracy that involves deception, death and, frankly, all the other things that conspiracies generally rely on to be menacing. After another member of the imperial guard is murdered, Shen finds himself on the wrong end of the suspicions of a guard sent to investigate.

While the combat has its interesting moments, there are several moments that feel phoned in. Several shots aren't even all that interesting, just slowed down to create the illusion that something crazy is going on. However, viewers will all know there's nothing crazy about jumping off a bridge and landing on a boat. It's called gravity, and that's kind of its 'thing.'

This isn't to say all the fight scenes are bland or uninteresting, but a good majority of them are. The film functions much better as a thriller. That guard who is investigating the case? His name is Pei Lun and he's pretty funny, using his humour to seemingly disarm people and get them to talk. His disdain for Shen Lian is briefly explored, and here, briefly, it is a good thing. This small plot device is never explored, which is fortunate, because it's kind of haphazard and dull.

The remainder of the cast are merely okay. One of the other important figures, Bei Zhai, is played with what can only be described as remarkable mediocrity, as nothing about her stands out, even in the slightest. Much of the acting seems to be purposelessly over the top, and it makes a lot of the film funnier than it was probably intended to be.

The only part that feels completely wrong is the ending. Once you see it, it will be more apparent, but suffice it to say, it seems ridiculous. It's the epitome of the kind of movie-making where it seems like the director's in a corner, so an unsolvable problem is solved off camera - inexplicably, resulting in a weird ending that could have been a lot nobler. Honestly, if there's one thing Brotherhood of Blades II: The Infernal Battlefield could have done better, it would have been ending just a little bit sooner.

All in all, Brotherhood of Blades II: The Infernal Battlefield is an enjoyable film, only let down by some mediocre performances, some bland action, and an ending that over stays its welcome. Beyond these flaws, it's a great martial arts thriller that manages to be both engrossing and fun, without bypassing those honourable goals and moving into stupid territory. For fans of the genre, this is a definite must see, but for those of you who aren't sold on martial arts heroes, this isn't going to be the movie to do it.

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