Movie Report: Jade Warrior (2006)

Book coverAfter watching The Forbidden Kingdom, with its Jade Emperor and Jade Warlord and mention made of a Jade Warrior, I looked into whether this film was related to it. And it is not; the jade in the title merely reflects the association of jade with China.

Like Kung Fu Yoga was supposed to be, this film is a joint production between Chinese and Finnish, as in Finland, production companies. So it has subtitles from both Mandarin and Finnish. The joint nature of the production gives it a bit of a tortured plot device to shoehorn Chinese actors/settings and Finnish actors/settings into it.

In it, a Finnish woman leaving her boyfriend brings some of his junk to an antique dealer, including a MacGuffin. The antique dealer recognizes it as a Chinese artifact and contacts the boyfriend, a down-on-his-luck fellow who has taken up smithing as a hobby. The MacGuffin opens a bit and reveals to the young Finn how, in a past life, he was a great warrior-monk who defeated a demon who was building a device to open the gates of hell.

In past China, the warrior/monk was destined to Kill the demon which would give the warrior to Nirvana when he dies–he won’t be reincarnated in other words, but he has fallen for a warrior woman played by Zhang Jingchu–who falls in love with him as well, but her long-lost first love returns–the warrior’s companion Cho. Instead of killing the demon outright, he locks the demon’s head in the MacGuffin box, but the demon tells him that in all the warrior’s future lives, he will fall in love with Pin Yu, but she will not love him or will love another more than him. Jeez Louise, that is a hell of a thing to contemplate much less to endure. The warrior, who is half-Finnish (of course), takes the MacGuffin to Finland.

In modern Finland, an antiques specialist whose archeologist/anthropologist partner has discovered a preserved body holding the MacGuffin. When it is partially opened by some dust from the Finnish woman’s boyfriend’s things, the MacGuffin opens just enough to allow the demon to possess the antique dealer. He seeks out the woman’s boyfriend and tricks him into completing the gate to hell as the modern Finnish man rediscovers memories from his past life. He kills the demon, which means that when he dies, he will reach Nirvana, and he decides to try to win the heart of this incarnation of Pin Yu, the leaving girlfriend, anyway. And finis!

It tells the two stories in parallel as the modern Finn smith recovers the memories from his past life as well as hints from an archeologist/anthropologist who discovered the remains of Cho and Pin Yu in Finland and a bit of a coda that explains how they got there after the Jade Warrior (presumably the half Finn/half Chinese guy was the titlular character) killed himself to begin his next pursuit of Pin Yu. Cho and Pin Yu went to protect the MacGuffins or something.

An okay film, a bit odd in its artificially grafted synergy. But it did have Zhang Jingchu (or Jingchu Zhang, depending on where you put the family name relative to the personal name) as Pin Yu.

She has appeared in numerous American films, including Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and Rush Hour 3–both series that I have not seen passed the second installment–and many Chinese productions (no telling how many were co-produced in other countries by a quick glance at her IMDB page).

Maybe I will see her on video again someday.

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