Despite the fact that Shen Lian serves as an imperial guard, his high position does not give him any privileges. Ordinary people are afraid of him, “colleagues” are waiting for the slightest misstep. One day, Shen Lian accidentally finds a trail that leads to a conspiracy against the emperor. The attempt at exposure aggravates the already difficult position of the hero: now he is forced to kill or simply let the artist Bei Zhai die, which is completely unacceptable.
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Brotherhood of Blades II: The Infernal Battlefield is a prequel of Brotherhood of Blades released three years earlier. However, you don’t necessarily need to know the latter to understand the former. Some of the characters and the settings are alike but the story is a different one that even contradicts some elements shown in the first film.
Stylistically, we get a stylish wu xia movie with some conspiracy elements. The characters use arrows, daggers, swords and bare hands and feet to fight and most fight sequences look quite realistic. The opening sequence suffers from heavy CGI effects but the rest of the movie convinces with stunning landscapes and beautiful costumes. The locations are more diversified than in the first film. The conspiracy is similar to the first movie as Imperial Assassin Shen Lian gets caught in a conflict between a group of rebels supporting the emperor’s younger brother and the emperor, his eunuch and government officials. Shen Lian tracks down some of the rebels before he decides to save a female painter he sympathizes with. From then on, he tries to cover his actions up and gets progressively involved with the group of rebels. However, he soon realizes that some of his colleagues are two-faced and that he can’t trust anyone.
There are only a few minor reasons why I like this second film a little bit less than the first one. First of all, the exaggerated opening sequence doesn’t start the movie on a positive note. Secondly, the side characters aren’t as intriguing as in the first film. Thirdly, the movie’s ending feels rushed and the scene after the credits is a waste of time.
However, if you like dynamic historical fiction cinema, Brotherhood of Blades II: The Infernal Battlefield delivers the goods. It’s stylish, filled with action, passion and tension and is entertaining from start to finish. Even though you don’t need to be familiar with the first film to understand this prequel, I would recommend watching the former first because it’s the better movie. If you like it, you can’t go wrong with this one either.
Codec: HEVC / H.265 (53.0 Mb/s)
Resolution: Upscaled 4K (2160p)
Aspect ratio: 2.66:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.66:1
Mandarin: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Mandarin: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Mandarin: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (96kHz, 24-bit)
Mandarin: Dolby Digital 5.1
Mandarin (Traditional), Mandarin (Simplified), English.