The Warrior and the Wolf was set during the Qin Dynasty (221 – 206 BCE) in the remote northwest frontier at the foothill of Mount Kunlun. The fierce nomadic tribes in this region had long been battling the army of the Qin Imperial Court. Thousands of soldiers were dispatched to fight and conquer the barbarian hordes. The soldiers encountered many adversities and brutal challenge of survival during this warfare campaign. They fought only in the spring and summer season. In the winter, the soldiers would return home and the warfare would begin again in the following spring bringing with them new recruits.
One of the new recruits was Lu Chenkang (Joe Odagiri) who was a mountain-dwelling shepherd. He and along with other eligible men in the region were given minimal training and before long they were thrown into the battlefield against the nomadic tribes. Lu Chenkang had a strong aversion about taking another human life in the battlefield. He was basically a kind-hearted shepherd and adopted a wolf cub as a pet. Unhappy with his circumstance, Lu Chenkang attempted to desert the garrison but failed. However, the commander of the fortress, General Zhang An Liang (Tok Chung Wa) had a different view upon Lu Chenkang. He forcefully trained Lu Chenkang and quickly transformed him into a bloodthirsty soldier.
Time passed by and Lu Chenkang rose into the rank of assisting General Zhang An Liang. He was assigned to personally stand guard by the prized hostage, a nomadic tribe prince. The nomadic tribesmen launched a rescue attack on the fortress. In the skirmish, General Zhang An Liang was wounded and captured. Lu Chenkang decided to exchange the tribe prince for General Zhang An Liang instead of launching a counter attack. Ashamed of the situation, General Zhang An Liang asked Lu Chenkang to kill him. But Lu Chenkang didn’t have the heart to follow the order and the wounded General Zhang An Liang was sent back to the Capital.
With the absent of General Zhang An Liang, Lu Chenkang took over the commanding of the army in the fortress. After another series of grueling battles, just before the incipient winter, Lu Chenkang led his troops for their annual to march home. Trapped by heavy blizzards on their passage, Lu Chenkang and his men took shelter in a tribal village inhabited by the mysterious Harran tribe.
Inside the hut where Lu Chenkang stayed, he found a solitude Harran widow (Maggie Q) hiding inside an underground shelter. She explained to Lu Chenkang that her people were cursed. But the battle weary Lu Chenkang didn’t waste any time to ravaging her upon seeing her beauty. The widow warned Lu Chenkang that copulating with a non-Harran would invoke the curse of becoming wolves for both of them. Despite her warning, Lu Chenkang continued to repeatedly rape the widow. As time went on, the widow gradually subsided to Lu Chenkang and romance blossomed between them accepting their lupine fate.
Thereafter, the blizzards had stopped and Lu Chenkang led his men to continue their journey home. However, in the desert, they were attacked by great numbers of pack of wolves and they were also hit hard by sandstorm. Only Lu Chenkang managed to survive the calamity.
Five years later, the nomadic tribes in the northwest region were defeated. General Zhang An Liang was once again dispatched to the region to bring the Emperor’s decree with the terms of their surrender. He and his convoy encountered a pair of wolves once they arrived in the remote region. As they progressed on, General Zhang An Liang’s guards were killed one by one by the pair of wolves. The wolves kept leading them into the deserted fortress. This time around the transformed Lu Chenkang didn’t hesitate to kill his former commanding officer with his jaws.
The Warrior and the Wolf is an adaptation of a short story by Inoue Yasushi centered on the same set of characters through different period of times. However, the narrative structure is rather disjointed and abstruse. The backdrop of the movie is magnificently done displaying spectacular landscapes and gorgeous mountain vistas. It is visually impressive.
Joe Odagiri and Maggie Q did wonderful convincing performances for their doomed lover characters. They both complemented each others for their daring animalistic sexuality roles on the second part of the movie. Their performances genuinely set the stage for anticipation of otherworldly finale.
Other than majestic landscapes, audience won’t find the usual epic ancient war action packs movie in The Warrior and the Wolf. As a matter of fact, most audience won’t find The Warrior and the Wolf enjoyable and entertaining. It’s catered for those open minded audience with artistic inspired genre cinema fans.
Maggie Q … Harran Widow
Joe Odagiri … Lu Chenkang
Tok Chung Wa … General Zhang An Liang
Chinese Title: 狼灾记
Director: Tian Zhuang Zhuang
Screenplay: Tian Zhuang Zhuang, Inoue Yasushi
Producer: Bill Kong Chi Keung, Jiang Tao, Han Xiao Li
Director of Photography: Wong Yuk
Action Choreographer: Zhang Jinghua
Art Director: Liu Wei Xin
Composer: Zhao Li, Du Wei, Evgeny Galperine, Sasha Galperine
Filming Locations: Xinjiang Autonomous Region
Release Date: October 2, 2009
Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
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