2016, EuropaCorp/Fundamental Films
Robert Mark Kamen
Mark Chao (Zhoo)
Ni Ni (Princess Su Lin)
Dave Bautista (Arun the Cruel)
Sienna Guillory (Annie Bronson)
Uriah Shelton (Jack Bronson)
Francis Ng (The Wizard)
Kara Hui (The Mountain Spirit)
Ron Smoorenburg (The Black Knight)
Zha Ka (Brutus)
Luke Mac Davis (Hector)
Dakota Dudley (Travis)
A video gamer enters a world he never imagined in this film from the writers of the Transporter franchise that combines action and fantasy with touches of comedy.
Jack Bronson is not having a great home life. With being bullied by a small extreme sports group led by Travis and his mother’s failing career in real estate has led to a foreclosure of their house. Jack’s only thing to make him calm, is gaming, where he plays as the Black Knight, a warrior in a game that involves him having to save a princess. When he is given the gift of a chest by store owner Mr. Chen, Jack is about to be part of something never he never imagined.
When a mysterious warrior named Zhoo, a bodyguard to Princess Su Lin, arrives from within the chest that night, Zhoo mistakes Jack for being the Black Knight, his video game character. When Zhoo learns the truth, he is unhappy but entrusts Jack to watch Su Lin. At first, Su Lin and Jack seem to get along well but when a group of Barbarians arrive to kidnap Su Lin and return to the chest, Jack follows them and ends up in ancient China. Zhoo informs Jack that Su Lin has been kidnapped and forced to marry the Barbarian leader, Arun the Cruel. Jack soon finds himself with Zhoo on the adventure of a lifetime. Will he be able to rescue the princess or will it be too late for the young gamer?
The collaborative duo of Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen have produced both really good films but at the same time, perhaps due to the pressures of distributions, very unnecessary sequels (Taken 2 and 3 and Transporter 3 anyone?) However, with both of their most-well known franchises becoming adapted into television series, it was time for something a little different. Perhaps the target for this film is for a younger audience as well as their Chinese audience. Nevertheless, this collaboration between Besson’s EuropaCorp and Mark Gao’s Fundamental Films is a mixed bag of goodies under the helming of Matthias Hoene, the director of the recent cult classic Cockneys vs. Zombies.
The film meshes gaming with elements of the 2008 film The Forbidden Kingdom, with its central theme of a young gamer who ends up in ancient China through a portal but unlike the 2008 film, it is more about teaching and learning cultures all within a story involving the rescue of a princess at the hands of a barbarian leader. What is interesting is that we are introduced to Ni Ni’s Princess Su Lin when she appears in the modern world, where she learns things are not as they seem. It’s a true case of culture shock, one in which she gladly takes in stride. As for Uriah Shelton’s Jack, he learns a thing or two about how kingdoms worked and learns to stand up for himself with few moves by lead Mark Chao, who plays the soldier Zhoo, who is so loyal and adds unintentional comic relief when he threatens the same brand of punishment for disobeying him or Su Lin.
While Dave Bautista’s Arun the Cruel is perceived as the deadly leader of the Barbarians who wants Su Lin as his bride so they can rule under his iron fist, Besson and Kamen wisely add a touch of comic relief showing a side no one would expect from this villainous character. However, when a messenger would inform Arun of something major happening, when Arun means one thing, his buffoonish henchman Brutus, played by Zha Ka, would kill the messenger. This would lead into some funny conversations between the ruler and his right hand man. Hong Kong acting veteran Francis Ng also brings a bit of comic relief as the Wizard, who is responsible for Jack getting into the entire adventure to start. Look out for martial arts legend Kara Hui, who recently retired from action films, in an extended cameo as the “Mountain Spirit” along with Ron Smoorenburg in the opening of the film as Jack’s avatar, the Black Knight.
Don’t expect anything spectacular from the action of the film. If you’ve seen many of the Chinese period action pieces, then you know what to expect. However, this does not discredit the film as a movie about a young man’s coming of age through a journey he never expected to even enter and how this adventure would change his life forever.
Enter the Warrior’s Gate is quite a fun adventure that is more geared towards a younger audience but still is quite a journey full of culture clashing and some comic relief in the vein of the villain and his henchman, and a coming of age tale for a young gamer who goes on the adventure of a lifetime.
WFG RATING: B
EuropaCorp and Fundamental Films will be releasing this film on May 5 in select theaters as well as VOD and Digital HD.