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Saturday, September 9th, 2006

Kalevala

The first of my two TIFF films this year was the world premiere of the Finnish martial arts film Jade Warrior (or Jadesoturi) which I figured would either be extremely amazing or extremely awful – but definitely extreme. No middle ground.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t an extreme film at all but quite slow and subtle. There were a number of martial arts sequences which were quite well coreographed and performed, but a lot of the film is rather talky. Basically, it’s a combination of the Kalevala, the epic poem integral to the Finnish national identity, and Wuxia martial arts stories. As the director told in the Q&A, it’s not an explicit adaptation of the former, but rather draws inspiration from the idea of a mythic hero who never gets the girl. In Jade Warrior, said hero’s story begins in ancient China as he prepares to face his destiny in defeating a demon and runs in parallel with his reincarnation as a modern-day blacksmith who is despondent over losing his girlfriend. Fate, in the form of a mysterious metal chest allegedly holding the key to happiness in the world, intervenes and ties the two together.

I admit I found parts of the film bewildering, probably mainly because of the unfamiliarity with the myths being drawn upon, but it was still quite engrossing and well-executed, especially considering the modest budget. It was made for under three million Euros but you really can’t tell – it never overreaches in the visual effects department and thus looks fine for the most part. The only aspect I really found to be bad was lead actor Tommi Eronen’s attempts to speak Mandarin. Obviously he learned his lines phonetically, but whoever was coaching him should be ashamed – his cadence is so slow, awkward and unnatural that he comes off more as mentally challenged than chosen by destiny. A relatively minor complaint, I guess, but still annoying.

But while I don’t know that Euro-Asian martial arts hybrids will be the next big thing in international filmmaking, based on Jade Warrior it is definitely a concept that’s worth investigating. As long it’s more like this and less like Kung Fu

Trailer: Jade Warrior (Flash)

eye and Daylight’s For The Birds will release their debut album Troubleeverywhere. Better than a nickel in the Unicef box.

Lady Sovereign is at the Opera House October 24 while The Rapture are at the Guvernment on October 27. Full dates at Pitchfork for both.

Okay, off to the islands.

By : Frank Yang at 9:51 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. James McNally says:

    Do you have Volume 1 of the Billy Bragg box set? US$70 is a pretty good deal, probably…but is it worth replacing my old CDs? Is the bonus stuff and/or the remastering enough to make me pay?

  2. Victor Ng says:

    Your link to the trailer doesn’t work.

    Official site:

    http://www.jadesoturi.net

    Quicktime link:

    http://www.jadesoturi.net/v

  3. Frank says:

    trailer link worked fine for me.