The historical action-packed epic has never managed to recapture the popularity it enjoyed in the early-to-mid 2000s, but that hasn’t stopped plenty of big budget disappointments from emerging anyway. One of the most curious is comfortably 2015’s Dragon Blade, if only for its trio of unlikely stars.
While Jackie Chan headlining a $65 million Chinese blockbuster as a warrior leading the fight against invading forces in 50 BC makes sense given that he’s a major local star with plenty of box office pulling power, the presence of Adrien Brody as the villainous Roman emperor Tiberius, along with John Cusack as a defecting general, is nothing if not a head-scratcher.
Chan’s Huo An was framed by his enemies and enslaved, but he seeks to redeem himself by training a rogue band of Roman warriors to defeat the incoming enemy, with plenty of blood spilled along the way. Dragon Blade was admittedly a hit after bringing in $122 million from theaters, but it was all sizzle and no steak.
The visuals did come in for some praise, but respective critical and user scores of 35 and 39 percent on Rotten Tomatoes comfortably sees it rank among the bottom tier of blockbusters set in the distant past. And yet, in spite of the less-than-enthusiastic initial reception, Dragon Blade has become a surprise smash hit on a major streaming service.
As per FlixPatrol, the unexpected trio of Chan, Brody, and Cusack have combined to propel the film into the Top 10 on HBO Max in the United States, with many subscribers evidently seeking a fix of swords-swinging melees and sweeping battles.