Set in the era of Han Dynasty's reign in China, Huo An (Jackie Chan) heads the Silk Route protection squad – an armed group that guards the Northwest border of the region. Falsely framed under smuggling charges, the law decrees him to re-fortify a dilapidated city. Fate drives Roman General Lucius (John Cusack) and his platoon for shelter with Huo and an uncanny friendship blooms between the two men separated by ethnicity, but brought together by destiny. Lucius has fled his homeland following a coup and seeks Huo's help to save the crown prince Publius (Jozef Waite) from the evil designs of his treacherous brother, Tiberius (Adrien Brody).
Chan's Dragon Blade is a pleasant surprise, executed with visible grandeur and can claim to be an earnestly performed, crisply edited, smart fare. The movie primarily invests in attaining technical finesse to remain close to the widely understood connotation of commercial cinema. Forgoing the attempt to explore the frictional intricacies of the Silk Route, the film's slim understanding of its setting shows starkly in its tendency to avoid a political comment. But, what works in its favour is the satiating after-feeling which gives the audience a bang for the buck.
Director Daniel Lee constructs a film that is strongly rooted in emotional drama and has the brisk deftness of a thumping action-flick. It has stellar stunts, choreographed to perfection.
VERDICT: Drawing its fuzziness from the pulsating drama, Cusack and Chan astutely portray their camaraderie. The actors bring forth the anguish of their characters profoundly with minimal words. Cusack adds gravitas to Lucius, bringing a stoic feel to him. Chan is intense, displaying an unusual energy. The Roman-Sino bonding is beautifully depicted, especially in a scene that has soldiers from either sides engaging in a drill duel. Of all of Chan's recent escapades, this is the only one that not only lives up to his desired ambitious streak, but also has a warm touch to it.