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Call to Arms

Movie Title: 
Call to Arms

The Founding of a Republic

Year of Production: 
Chiang Shen
Internet Movie Database:
Video Information: 
LANGUAGE: Mandarin | SUBTITLE: English | DVD-RiP | mkv | 84 min | 720 mb Director: San Kong | Cast: Chung Wa, Hsia Fan, Chang Pin, Wong Hap, Chan Shen | Original Title: Dao Bing Fu Production Country: Hong Kong 1973
Movie Description: 
Shaw Brothers didn't just make kung fu movies or Wuxia or Huangmei Opera, but some real bona fide period piece epics in their years of film production. CALL TO ARMS is among these films that isn't quite a martial arts film, but at least has several scenes of martial arts in it. It's really a palace intrigue story, however, set in the ever popular Qin dynasty. Qin dynasty stories are often used to draw comparison to contemporary Chinese politics, as easy distinctions can be made between an emperor forcefully uniting disparate kingdoms into the state known as China and the current Chinese policy of trying to make Taiwan its bitch. Zhang Yimou's HERO is a perfect example of an intellectually bankrupt film maker attempting to make the idea of a Taiwanese take-over palatable by making Qin Shi Huang-di a sympathetic character, when conventionally he's considered to have been a ruthless, paranoid tyrant who burnt books, executed political dissenters, and generally ruled with oppressive tyranny. A few years before CALL TO ARMS, Chang Cheh filmed THE ASSASSIN with Jimmy Wang Yu, which also focused on this rough time in Chinese history, with some pretty stellar results, interpreted by some as a comment on the riots and agitated public in Hong Kong at the time (personally, I don't see it). CALL TO ARMS, however, doesn't have any overt politics, and if it was meant to, the sands of time and surf of ever mutable culture have worn them away for the modern (Western) viewer watching the film with subtitles. The story is really a series of consistently idiotic intrigues within the Qin court, amounting to a movie that might have been passable brain dead entertainment at the time, but is quite dull and without too much worth. The kingdom of Zhao is basically trying to trick the tyrannical emperor into giving them a large portion of his army, but the way they go about it is stupid and couldn't possibly work. As a matter of fact, it doesn't in the movie, and in its seventy eight minutes of running time, it speeds towards a hurried and not quite believable conclusion. Although I've defended the movie's ability to not try and draw any connections between the conflict in the Qin dynasty and simply use it as an entertaining setting for a movie, the result is marred by bad scripting. Why would anybody simply storm the palace the way that Zhao does when they need to borrow troops? Surely they realize that won't ingratiate them to anybody, and will only arose suspicions, but since the director wanted another sword fight, that's what they do.