The title character of “God of War” is not literally divine. But General Qi (Vincent Zhao) is no ordinary mortal, as he proves by leading an impromptu Ming Dynasty army against a much larger coalition of Chinese pirates and Japanese samurai and mercenaries. Director Gordon Chan (“Fist of Legend”) also assumes godlike status, shooting much of this 16th-century saga from eye-in-the-sky camera positions.
Fictionalized from historical events, the movie is sweeping and dynamic, if mostly unsurprising. It opens and closes with epic battles in settings that range from narrow city alleys to treacherous mud flats. Muskets and cannons supplement swords and bows-and-arrows for maximum carnage.
In the quieter middle section, Qi develops tactics and technology. This interlude includes some smaller-scale brawls, notably one featuring Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan’s lifelong sparring partner. Qi also communes with his refined wife (Regina Wan), who’s eventually revealed — unsurprisingly — to be a goddess of war.
As the wily leader of the Japanese forces, grizzled Kurata Yasuaki has more presence than Zhao, who’s bland in non-action sequences. But Zhao’s ability to deliver dialogue is less crucial than his skill at leading hundreds of extras through elegantly choreographed, sumptuously photographed chaos.
Unrated. At the Regal Rockville Center Stadium 13 and AMC Loews Rio Cinema 18. Contains bloody violence and mild sexuality. 128 minutes. In Mandarin and Japanese with subtitles. 128 minutes.