While it’s easy to admit full love for the spectacle that cinema can bring, but you can’t just rely on it either. God of War is a highly entertaining action period piece that manages better action then most recent efforts in the genre but it just lacks a little too much in the character development to be something truly memorable.
It’s the 16th century and pirates rule the Chinese coastline, pillaging the small villages and terrorizing the citizens. When maverick leader Commander Yu (Sammo Hung) enlists the help of a sharp young general (Vincent Zhao), they devise a plan to defeat the pirates in a violent clash of wit and weapons that will decide who will rule the land.
I can’t deny that God of War certainly has enough well staged action to live up to its name and make for a visually entertaining affair, the script and some of the performances had this falling a little short of the epic experience that it so badly wants to be.
With his solid yet somewhat unremarkable pedigree, writer/director Gordon Chan puts together a very attractive film that looks great on as big of a screen as possible. The action is well staged and evenly balanced enough to the let the narrative unfold in an effective fashion as gets breaks of exposition in just the right intervals . Chan is a solid directorial hand and this proves his worth without a single ounce of doubt as the action does dominate at will. However this is also the downside of the film, while there are some solid performances over all, the character development just isn’t there and aren’t invested in the characters like we potentially should be. It’s visually engaging to be sure, but emotionally kind of flat from beginning to end.
There are some veteran Chinese and Japanese action hands in this film like Sammo Hung and Yasuaki Kurata but the entirety of the character driven elements of the story feel a little too rushed (or perhaps even lost in translation). It’s not a film with any obvious clunker performances but for something taking place in the midst of the horrors of war, a little bit more pathos and humanity would have gone a long way in helping some of these characters resonate in a much more human fashion. The material had no room for anything that wasn’t on the page, and it suffers a little because of it.
Ultimately, at the end of the day; God of War is quality period piece action flick if you like to see your arrows flying and swords drawn on the battlefield but it lacks those genuine moments of humanity that help you believe in the men fighting those wars.