The unification of the Middle Kingdom has been mined for entertainment many times over. Films like Hero and The Emperor and the Assassin take their queues from this period in Chinese history. Nothing is quite like Kingdom though. The Japanese telling of a Chinese story is a bit of an anomaly but with the success of the manga of the same name, an anime series was sure to follow. Follow it did, a successful two-season anime of the same name released in 2012. Sony Pictures Japan picked it up for a live-action film in Japan where it has been incredibly successful.
Enter Funimation and their rights to the American release, which will be this Friday, August 16th. This epic action film has delivered in Japan and now lets hope that it gets the recognition and success that it deserves here.
Revolving around the tale of Xin a war orphan in the Qin state of the Middle Kingdoms. He and his friend Piao dream of becoming the greatest generals in the world to raise their station and get out of slavery. Xin and Piao train themselves fighting in the woods and one fateful night a general sees the two of them training. He takes Piao to the Imperial City leaving a jealous Xin behind.
Soon Piao returns grievously injured, a coup has occurred and soldiers are hot on his heels. Xin is about to start the adventure of a lifetime. Meeting heroes and villains along the way. It’s a plot that you see coming from a mile away but is no less satisfying for its predictability.
While this is a film steeped in Chinese history and mythology many hallmarks of Japanese film making are here giving this movie a very unique feel. Everything from the masks of the Mountain Tribe to the giant executioner lurking within the castle walls smacks of manga and anime. Shot on location in China the epic nature of the cinematography is spot on, and like most Asian action films the fight choreography is intense.
From the look to the plot to action, this movie has everything that you would hope from this brand of film. The characters have heart and depth that is allowed to develop over the movies two-hour running time. This is one of the few live-action films that Funimation has released, but if this is the caliber of film that they are bringing to market outside of anime then we have a lot to look forward to from Funimaition.