This film was made prior to Ip Man II and it’s quite clear that Donnie Yen is still in high demand for crafty action and wu-xia style films. The 14 Blades referred to in the film’s English title are the weapons given to Donnie Yen’s character Qinglong. Each is used for specific purposes: eight for interrogation, six for execution.
The film’s Chinese title Jinyiwei (Mandarin) / Gamyeewai(Cantonese) is a reference to the name given to the elite brocade guards who were established by the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty to keep law and order in Imperial China.They were often involved in military and political affairs.
The plot goes like this: At the fall of the Ming Dynasty, the Imperial Court was at the control of the corrupted Eunuch Jia (LAW Gar Ying). Jia and the Exiled Prince Qing (Sammo HUNG) acted in collusion to infiltrate the country, the elite team of Jinyiwei was assigned to steal the prominent imperial seal.
Unbeknownst to Qinglong (Donnie YEN), this mission was merely to set him up as the scapegoat for the conspiracy, and he was betrayed by his fellow Jinyiwei brother. Though Qinglong barely escaped with his life, his name was on the dead list of the exiled Prince Qing who sent out his best emissary Tuo Tuo to hunt him down. In order to save the country, Qinglong forced the tearful Qiao Hua (Vicki Zhao) to continue the escort of the military seal to the minister of defence, while he prepared to fight his last battle with Tuo Tuo (Kate TSUI).
Donnie Yen is able to keep his cool presence in his favour as Qinglong is described at the beginning on the film to be an orphan who had to kill his own brother to become a member of the brocade guards and eventually its leader. Having been framed by Eunuch Jia for stealing the Imperial Seal from Prime Minister Zhao Shen Yan (Damian Lau), coming close to being killed, he comes to the realisation that has been given used to assist in usurping the throne. He sets out to right the wrongs and reclaim his dignity. Donnie Yen gets to show off some great expertise with bladed weapons and fisticuffs in the many fight sequences. One of the best sequences is his fight with Shaw Bros vetern Chen Guan Tai.
Vicki Zhao although given more of a supporting role as Qiao Hua, the daughter of an armed escort agency chief (WU Ma). She plays her role fairly well even though it seems as though her role is more like a damsel in search of excitement as expressed in a particular scene. It was quite funny to see her impersonate Donnie Yen’s character at a particular time in the film’s narrative.
Kate Tsui plays Tuo Tuo as an almost emotionless emissary only loyal to her Godfather Prince Qing. She does not have much dialogue, although it seems like she is more like deadly eye candy in a few scenes. It’s very clear she can’t shed her image as a former Miss HK however it’s to her advantage.
Sammo Hung portrays Prince Qing with emotion. The exiled prince is the Emperor’s Uncle, whom had attempted to usurp the throne previously which resulted in having both legs cut off. Through conspiring with Eunuch Jia, he almost succeeds the second time.
QI Yu Wu plays Xuanwu, a member of the Brocade Guards who had betrayed Qinglong and other senior Brocade Guards to work for Eunuch Jia and eventually Prince Qing to assist in reclaiming the throne. His portrayal of Xuanwu isn’t bad.
Action Direction by GUK Hin Chiu was very creative and refreshing whilst the usage of CGI was minimal to enhance the sets.
Jerome gives this 8/10.
Cast: Donnie YEN(YAN) Ji Daan, Kate TSUI (CHUI) Ji Saan, WU Ma, Vicki ZHAO Wei, WU Chun, LAW Gar Ying, Sammo HUNG Gam Bo, QI Yu Wu,FUNG Hak On,
Damian LAU Chung Yan, CHEN (CHAN) Guan (Goon) Tai (Taai), CHEN Zhi Hui
Director: Daniel LEE (LEI) Yan Gong