I think I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy playing the Dynasty Warriors series of games from Koei Tecmo, with the combination of wild brawling action and colourful characters being something that has entertained me since way back in the sixth gen of gaming when I first played Dynasty Warriors 3. I used to always play the games with my non-video game-playing sister back in the day, with the DW games being one of the rare occasions where she could actually be coerced to pick up a controller, so it seemed fitting that she recently made me aware of a Dynasty Warriors movie over on Netflix. I decided to give it a shot and figured I would share some of my thoughts on it.
The Dynasty Warriors movie was directed by Roy Chow and features perhaps the longest list of production companies I’ve ever seen in my life. I think it took roughly 2-3 minutes to get through all of the logos of each individual company before the movie proper actually started. This instantly made me worried that too many cooks were going to spoil the broth, but ultimately, the Dynasty Warriors movie does a pretty faithful job at taking the wild action from the games and translating it into a movie setting. The warriors within the game have most of their trademark weaponry, and the punishing special “Musou” attacks are included as well, with more than one instance of a warrior delivering a big move to send hundreds of infantry flying all over the screen.
If you’re someone who just wants to see some of the big fight scenes lovingly recreated, complete with the actual score from the games playing in the background whilst it happens, then you’ll probably get a big grin on your face when the battle scenes kick into high gear. If you’re someone who is just as interested in the story and lore of the games, along with the wild over the top characters that have appeared in them over the years, then the Dynasty Warriors movie might not score as highly for you. Obviously, it would have been an act of impossibility to include all of the game’s gigantic roster, but the two-hour running length of the movie does mean that some characters are either limited to minor roles or omitted entirely.
For instance, any fans of the Wu side of the Three Kingdoms are probably going to leave the Dynasty Warriors movie with a sense of disappointment as they are barely in the movie at all, with us only occasionally hearing about things that they are up to. It’s very much a case of “tell, don’t “show” when it comes to the Wu side of things, with the main focus being on the three main Shu characters of Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, whilst Cao Cao is pretty much the only Wei representative. The individual actors of those four characters all do a fine job, in my opinion, although I think the script makes it kind of tricky for Wang Kai’s Cao Cao in particular to really land due to him being written a bit inconsistently for my own personal liking.
I won’t go too deeply into the story of the Dynasty Warriors movie so as to avoid the risk of spoiling anything, but if you’ve played the games or read any of the books in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, then most of the characters and story points will be familiar to you. There is a literal exposition lady at one stage, which means the narrative can sometimes feel a little bit jumbled, but when they get into the main story of building up the major battle of the movie, then things settle into a decent lineal narrative that is easy to follow and features the desired fireworks you’d want.
Certainly the amount of the overall plot of the Three Kingdoms story that is covered in the Dynasty Warriors movie is a drop in the ocean, and there are plenty of avenues they can go down if they ever wanted to do a sequel. I personally think the story would fit an episodic television show far better than a 2-hour feature film, but for what it is, the Dynasty Warriors movie isn’t bad. It’s been getting some pretty lousy reviews online, and I think those giving it one star are being a tad unfair. It’s not an especially good movie or anything, but I’d give it two-ish stars at worst, and I’d certainly suggest a fan of the series give it a cursory look to see if they like it. It’s not worth signing up to Netflix if you don’t already have a sub, but if you’re already a Netflix subscriber and you like the games, then it’s probably worth giving it a chance just in case it tickles your taste buds.
The Urban Dictionary defines “The Fitzgerald Scale” as “A scale used to measure the awkwardness of a situation. The Fitzgerald Scale is divided into ten subunits, called ‘Geralds’. Each Gerald is in turn divided into ten Subgeralds, which gives 100 possible levels of awkwardness. One Gerald is a commonly awkward level, where a ten Gerald situation would be a scarring event.”
Man, the atmosphere of that party was off the Fitzgerald Scale when we decided to leave