Review: 'L.O.R.D. Legend of Ravaging Dynasties' has a rich and well thought-out mythology

Secret ending? No.

Running time: 117 minutes (~2 hours)

“L.O.R.D. Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (爵迹)” is a 3D motion capture animated action fantasy adventure wu xia film. 

In a distant realm where martial artists battle each other with the power of their souls, an unlikely coincidence reveals a dark conspiracy that could tear apart the entire world. 

It features the likeness and voice talents of Fan Bingbing (Kuizan Lotus), Kris Wu (Silver), Cheney Chen (Chi-Ling), William Chan (Nether), Amber Kuo (Thalia), Yang Mi (Shen Yin), Lin Yun (Phantom Flower), Yan Yikuan (Kuizan Feng When), Aarif Rahman (Ni Hong), Roy Wang (Pale Boy), Wang Duo (Kila). It is rated PG-13.

“L.O.R.D. Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (爵迹)” is a large improvement over previous Chinese animated films. It features a complicated but nuanced plot (pay attention to the details!) and imaginative animation to complement the plot. 

With a rich and well thought-out mythology, exciting and creative battles, and a lot more room to expand the material, “L.O.R.D. Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (爵迹)” is a large leap forward for Chinese animated films.

Highlights

Excellent facial animation

The close-ups are so lifelike that you could almost mistake them for real human faces, and have none of that uncanny valley discomfort, probably because they are based on familiar stars already. 

Their emotiveness is also nearly indistinguishable from regular people, again, probably due to the fact that it is motion capture based. Emotions are the backbone of any good drama, and “L.O.R.D. Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (爵迹)” does well in this regard.

An epic plot

What begins as a misunderstanding eventually evolves (a bit abruptly though) into a plot that threatens to undo the established world order. It piles revelation and revelation upon you as the film races towards its conclusion. 

You’re left with the sense that you’ve barely scratched the surface of the grand machinations that are occurring behind the scenes.

Fluid fight scenes

“L.O.R.D. Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (爵迹)” delivers on the fight scenes, which look straight out of a martial arts anime. 

It’s not just random bursts of energy and colourful movement effects — each character has a distinctly different fighting style. 

Some might utilise fantastic beasts (though it doesn’t say where to find them) while others manipulate multiple weapons in a fight. Element wielders abound as well.

Letdowns

Regular movements seem awkward and unnatural

While a lot of attention was paid to the fight scenes and emotional close-ups, it seems like they forgot about the regular movements, like walking and talking. 

When it comes to these less fancy scenes, they really remind you that this is a computer animated feature, thanks to the robotic and eerily smooth movements. 

Well, at least they know where to spend their money.

Chi-Lin is so clueless he could possibly be brain damaged

The story is told mostly from the eyes of Chi-Lin (Cheney Chen), who is the Everyman in the story and hence has everything explained to him. 

He is portrayed as the blur goofball to ostensibly enhance his cuteness and appeal. 

Unfortunately, he is dumbed down to the point of not being able to function as a human being, much less being a superb martial artists. He is so dim-witted that it’s a surprise no other character has throttled him yet.

“L.O.R.D. Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (爵迹)” is an energetic film that needs some work on consistency and characterisation.

Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? Yes.

Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? Nah.

Score: 3.0/5

“L.O.R.D. Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (爵迹)” opens in cinemas:
- 13 October 2016 (Singapore)


Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at marcusgohmarcusgoh.com. The views expressed are his own.