Released in 2007, The Warlords was Chinese director Peter Chan’s first epic action-adventure, coming on the heels of critically acclaimed dramas including Alan and Eric: Between Hello and Goodbye; The Love Letter; and Perhaps Love. The 1860′s war movie told the story of three sworn blood brothers who were united in battle, before matters of romance resulted in division, conflict, and tragedy. The Warlords was originally titled Blood Brothers but was renamed in order to avoid confusion with earlier films. The movie starred Jet Li, Andy Lau, and Takeshi Kaneshiro, and was filmed in China on a budget of 40 million (U.S.). The movie was a huge box office success in Asia, and won numerous awards including best film, best director, and best actor (Jet Li) at the 45th Golden Horse Awards.
Set during China’s Taiping Rebellion, The Warlords was ambitious in scope, combining drama and epic action scenes. One notable ten-minute battle sequence involved thousands of extras, with a high level of blood-letting, and impeccable fight choreography. The sword sequences are dazzling and the costumes lend a rich authenticity to the film. The Warlords earned best cinematography, best visual effects, and best costume and makeup at both the 27th Hong Kong Awards, and the 45th Golden Horse Awards. Director Chan drew on early roots and influences in 1980′s Hong Kong cinema, to bring out themes of conflict and comradeship.