Far from the stylistic martial arts pics of recent times, this unrelentingly violent historical epic set during the Qing Dynasty of the late 19th century, aims for visceral realism on the battlefield over high-flying histrionics. Jet Li is a disillusioned general in the Qing army who deserts after a devastating defeat. He meets up with two bandits who, impressed by his fighting skills, ask him to join them and the three form a blood pact. When cash gets tight, Jet convinces his friends to enlist and fight the revolutionaries, but it's not long before ambition and lust put their new loyalties to the test. A huge hit in Hong Kong, it swept the national film awards with 13 nominations, winning eight gongs including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Jet Li.
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