WARRIORS OF HEAVEN AND EARTH | Movie Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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WARRIORS OF HEAVEN AND EARTH

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There's much in He Ping's revisionist Western, set along the Silk Road in the China's Gobi desert circa 700 A.D., that rings familiar: vast desert landscapes to be breached by man and beast, marauders, isolated villages-cum-fortresses and outlaw warriors who nonetheless adhere religiously to a code of honor. The two protagonists -- a Japanese enforcer and the fugitive he is charged to find -- are both expert swordsmen. Through mutual accord they agree to protect a Buddhist caravan carrying a valuable relic -- and to continue their dispute later. It's all slightly overheated narratively, as such swords-and-horse dramas can be, but like his antecedent, the great Western director John Ford, He Ping knows the value of gorgeous scenery (and the dangers it harbors) and shoots a beautiful color-rich film. And the fights are old-school -- no floating up in the air. In Mandarin with subtitles. Starts Fri., Oct. 22. Harris

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