"Rousing Historical Epic, from Japan to China with Love"
What You Need To Know:
Spectacularly photographed and designed, KINGDOM is a rousing epic tale based on Chinese history. Some battle scenes are repetitious or could be shortened, however. MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for KINGDOM, because of its frequent battle scenes, which sometimes contain extreme violence, and some foul language. Also, KINGDOM has a humanist worldview focused on an ancient power struggle between two brothers. It never questions the morality behind China’s long history of all-powerful military dictatorships.
KINGDOM is a fictionalized historical epic from Japan about the first Emperor to unite China in 221 B.C. and the young general who helps him storm a provincial fortress when the Emperor’s half-brother stages a coup in the province from which the Emperor plans to establish his dynasty. KINGDOM does an amazing job detailing the many battles it takes to restore the Emperor to his provincial throne, but it contains some extreme violence, lots of fighting and some obscenities, and has a humanist worldview focused on a power struggle between two brothers vying for a secular kingdom.
The movie opens in 255 B.C. with two orphans, Xin (“Sheen”) and Piao, being sold as slaves to a farmer and his wife. The two boys dream of becoming great military generals, because joining the military was the only way for slaves to improve their lot in life. So, the two boys start practicing sword fighting using only tree limbs as weapons.
Ten years later, the boys are proficient at fighting. One day, the head advisor of the King of the Qin (“Cheen”) Province comes to the farm and takes Piao away to serve the King. Months later, Piao shows up one night mortally wounded. He tells Xin that it’s now up to him alone to become the great military general they aspired to be as children. He gives Xin a message to take to the next town. Before he dies, he tells Xin that he will be there with Xin in spirit, come what may.
Xin sneaks out of the farm, but he’s trailed by an assassin, the man who dealt Piao the fatal blow. On the outskirts of the next town, Xin comes upon a fancy hut, where he finds Piao’s exact double, a man who turns out to be the King of Qin Province. The King, whose name is Zheng, had used Piao to dupe the assassin, who had been sent by Zheng’s corrupt half-brother, who has staged a coup against Zheng. Just then, the assassin appears, and Xin promises King Zheng he will kill him after he kills the assassin because Zheng is the reason Xin’s friend, Piao, is dead.
Defeating the assassin turns out to be more difficult than Xin realized, but, after an intense fight, Xin manages to kill him. Instead of killing the King as he promised, however, the King convinces Xin to help him win back his throne from the King’s evil brother. After all, the King’s brother is the real reason Xin’s friend is dead.
Thus, begins a long journey to the fortress where King Zheng’s brother is running the kingdom. To successfully assault the fortress, however, Zheng, Xin and a small group of Zheng’s followers need many more soldiers. Zheng decides to make an appeal to the mountain clan for help, even though the previous rulers of Qin Province came to look down upon the clan. Will the mountain chieftain agree to help?
Spectacularly photographed and designed, KINGDOM is a rousing epic tale from Japan based on Chinese history. Zheng’s goal is to unite all the provinces and fiefdoms in China into one country, and KINGDOM uses a somewhat fictionalized story to tell the first part of Zheng’s campaign. Strangely, it’s based on a popular Japanese “manga” style comic book, which was made into a 77 episode animated series on Japanese television.
KINGDOM holds the viewer’s interest throughout, but some battle scenes are repetitious or could be shorter. The movie has a several nice twists that propel the plot.
MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for KINGDOM, however, because of its frequent battle scenes, some of which contain extreme violence, and some foul language. Also, KINGDOM has a humanist worldview focused on a power struggle between two brothers of noble blood vying for a secular kingdom. The story shows how the “good” brother becomes friends with the young soldier who eventually will become one of the brother’s greatest generals. As such, the story includes popcorn portrayals of several historical figures who were important figures in the campaign to unify China from about 245 B.C. to 221 B.C. under a provincial king who’s now recognized as the first Emperor of China, who reigned for 11 years until his sudden death. The history behind the movie is fascinating. For instance, Emperor Zheng unified several diverse provincial walls into the Great Wall of China. However, the movie is designed as an entertainment rather than a bonafide history lesson. It’s important to note that the filmmakers never question the morality behind China’s long history of all-powerful military dictatorships, which currently is represented by the “socialist market economy” controlled by China’s atheist communist party and its top leaders.