Da'ud Bob's Movie Review
July 2014

One of the nice things about having a Netflix account is that you can find a lot of interesting movies on there that you might not otherwise even be aware of. One of the bad things about having a Netflix account is that you can find a lot of interesting movies on there that you might not otherwise even be aware of. This is especially true of some of their foreign film offerings. Films that have never played in a theater in this country, and are unlikely to, and so remain unknown to the majority of us. But now, through the power of the digital age, we can run across these movies, learn about them, and watch them. And, in my case, review them for you. And so it is that this month, Da'ud Bob reviews a Chinese film released in 2011, The Warring States (original title, Zhan Guo).

Starring Honglei Sun as the strategist Sun Bin, Tian Jing as Tian Xi, Hee-seon Kim as the Empress Pang, Francis Ng as Pang Juan, Kiichi Nakai as the Duke of Qi, Wu Jiang as Tian Ji, Degang Guo as the Emperor of Zhou, Enhe Feng as the Emperor of Wei, Jinwu Ma as the Prime Minister of Qi, and Kesheng Lei as the Shangdafu of Qi, the story takes place in the Fourth Century B.C.E. in what was to become the nation of China, but which at that time was simply a collection of several warring states (hence the title), each with its own leader trying to gain advantage over and conquer all of the others. The plot is a bit confusing: part war story, part love story, and part quest for the knowledge contained in a fabled book of strategy which - it is believed - would make its reader/user unbeatable in war. The movie is, apparently, historically based, but how accurate the history portrayed here is I cannot venture to say. I suspect, without being certain, that it's something a little less historically accurate than Elizabeth, which is to say, I wouldn't recommend using it for gaining an understanding of the actual history, and certainly not for answers on a history test Additionally, the movie left me with a sense of that there was more to the story than what they were showing on-screen; I felt like I was missing something crucial to the storylines.

Good points: The cinematography was for the most part well done, and very pretty. Some of the costuming was very nice. Real chain mail.

Bad points: There was a lot of digital work done that was not of the best quality; still, the huge battle scenes and hundreds of corpses would not have been affordable by the movie makers if they'd all been real actors and extras hired for the same scenes. Some of the armor looked cheaply made. (The temptation here is to make some joke about it all being "made in China," but I'm going to try to continue to resist that.)

Zero breasts. Three gallons of blood. 589 dead bodies. Arrow fu. Sword fu. Spear fu. Florentine sword fu. Knife fu. Kung fu. Fire fu. Stone avalanche fu. Arms roll. Rocks roll. Gratuitous grass surfing. Gratuitous chariot race. Gratuitous breeding dissension in the ranks. Gratuitous knee amputation. Gratuitous dancing girl. Gratuitous slo-mo. Academy Award nominations to Tian Jing as Tian Xi because "she kicks high" and looks good doing it; and to Honglei Sun as Sun Bin for portraying such naivete in someone who is supposed to be an expert strategist. A 67 on the Vomit Meter. Two stars. Da'ud Bob says, "There are probably much better Chinese movies about this period out there; if I can find them on Netflix I'll review them for you. Check it out!"

Upcoming movies and miniseries to watch for!

Now playing in theaters. Angelina Jolie's highest-grossing film to date. Maleficent. The "Sleeping Beauty" tale is told from the perspective of the villainous Maleficent and looks at the events that hardened her heart and drove her to curse young Princess Aurora. Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Imelda Staunton.


Now playing How to Train Your Dragon 2. It's been five years since Hiccup and Toothless successfully united dragons and Vikings on the island of Berk. While Astrid, Snoutlout and the rest of the gang are challenging each other to dragon races (the island's new favorite contact sport), the now inseparable pair journey through the skies, charting unmapped territories and exploring new worlds. When one of their adventures leads to the discovery of a secret ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace. Now, Hiccup and Toothless must unite to stand up for what they believe while recognizing that only together do they have the power to change the future of both men and dragons. Animated. Jay Baruchel, Kristen Wiig, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill.


July 25, 2014 Hercules. Having enduring his legendary twelve labors, Hercules, the Greek demigod, has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord. Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane, Joseph Fiennes.


October 17, 2014 Dracula Untold. Vampire mythology combined with the true history of Prince Vlad tell the origin of Dracula. Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Charlie Cox, Samantha Barks.

The trailer was released with the new Godzilla on May 16.

December 12, 2014 Exodus: Gods and Kings. Moses leads the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt. Christian Bale, Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley, John Turturro. Directed by Ridley Scott.

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