THE FOUR trilogy is Based on the famous novel Si Da Ming Bu (四大名捕; The Four Great Constables) by Wen Ruian. A story that has at his heart four constables that work together to solve cases and fight against evil. Before getting into the different movies I would like to do a character introduction:
Emotionless (無情 wu qing) Liu Yifei
Lost the use of her legs after an injury, with the powers of her mind she can levitate objects, use hidden weapons and read peoples mind.
Cold Blood (冷血) Deng Chao
Was raised with wolves, can transform into a wolf, extreme sense of smell and outstanding martial arts.
Life Snatcher 追命 (Ronald Cheng) master thief, smart and fast.
Zhuge Zhenwo (Anthony Wong) Leader of the divine constabulary.
Ji Yaohua, (Jiang Yiyan) Works for Department six, intelligent but always somewhere between good and bad.
THE FOUR 1 (四大名捕1) 2012
set in the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127) during the reign of Emperor Huizong (1100-1126). The “department six” has the responsibility for all criminal investigations in the imperial capital. When a counterfeit coin currency circulates the city, the department six investigates. When they find the suspect and the evidence, The divine constabulary, a secret service, takes both the evidence and the suspect. Department six, and especially Commandant Liu, is angry about it, they can do very little because the divine constabulary is commissioned by the emperor.
Commandant Liu does not let it go, he lets Cold Blood (Deng Chao) infiltrate the divine constabulary to slowly try and bring it down. The Chief of the divine constabulary is suspicious of his reasons to join the agency, but lets him join anyway. And Cold blood gets into a difficult situation, when he finds himself taken into the family of the divine constabulary, his loyalties become more divided each day he continues on the mission. But will he really choose the divine constabulary’s side? Meanwhile, the real mastermind behind the counterfeit currency is planting spies everywhere, and a plan to destroy to kill the emperor comes closer. Only the four will be able to stop them, if it’s not too late.
Personal Opinion: The moment I saw the opening shot I already knew this would be great movie, I felt it somehow, and yes I’ve been wrong with opening shots, but not this time. Still the Four is nothing new, it’s actually a wuxia classic, but with a fantasy twist. However the characters have been taken to a somewhat new level; With Cold Blood as a real part wolf convertible, Emotionless as a mind magician (and above that, it’s a female version) and iron fist with bad ass tattoos. Oh and well life snatcher, just like always.
But the story is somewhat new, the main villain is somewhat original, although his idea of walking corpses had already been used in other the four adaptations. Ooh yeah I forgot to mention, unfortunately this movie has creepy corpses
although… they look quite cute BTS.
Luckily we won’t see any corpses in part2 and 3, although a half tree human isn’t much better I guess.
(spoiler An Shigeng comes back as a tree).
You know, It wouldn’t surprise me If I would say Emotionless is my fav character of the movie. Just so cool, I think we need to see more of these kind of paranormal powers without the actual light effects. It’s more creepy without them (as if the movie isn’t creepy enough)
And there is more steaming food in part 2, so why don’t we have a look at that.
THE FOUR 2 (四大名捕2) 2013
The second movie begins with the divine constabulary setting up camp in a forest. (a sort of wuxia picnic) Then suddenly Cold blood finds trails of blood, he follows the trail and runs ahead of the others, Life snatcher, Iron hands and Ji Yaohua follow him but when they arrive at the abandoned house they see Cold blood is shot by a cannon. And the man who fired the cannon turns out to be Zhuge Zhengwo…..??? He escapes and the department six and the divine constabulary investigate the house and discover the bloodshed of many people, the only survivor is Ouyang Da. Someone that disappeared from the pugilist world.
Zhuge Zhengwo is puzzled and wants to investigate the case. And altough the sheriff agrees, Ji Yaohua and the others in Department Six protest against it because there were several cases of massacres, each with the death of a man that was supposed to have died twelve years ago. And all tied with Zhuge Zhengwo! Connected through the Gang of Twelve, a gang that’s believed to have killed heartless family.
And it gets worse, if you thought An Shigeng is dead, you couldn’t be more wrong, he’s back as a half tree, half human. His father, Lord An, has him restored in that state. And together they plan to usurp the throne. To plan a spy in department six, they kidnap Ji Yaohua and give her a poison that will require a monthly antidote.
Back at the Divine constabulary, Cold Blood questions Zhuge Zhengwo about the weapon he used to shoot him with, Zhuge admits he has used the weapon before, for it was the very same weapon he was gifted by the Emperor. But he refuses to tell anything about the Gang of Twelve, instead he says he will solve the case in two days. But before that day comes, the Sheriff King is found dead. The evidence is again, pointing to Zhuge Zhengwo.
When one of the members of the gang of twelve turns up, they find him and Heartless kills him in a fight. They are promptly arrested by Ji Yaohua who has taken over Department Six… Cold Blood, Iron Hands and Life Snatcher are left for a difficult task, breaking into the extremely well guarded prison of the department six.
Wow, just simply wow because this movie made what in the first movie looked like an adventure classic into a mystery and a real drama, seriously the ending blew me away, unexpected turn of the plot, and I’m saying that while I’ve seen other adaptations of the four.
But don’t get me wrong there is still a lot of adventure and fantasy epicness, with as sort of a high point; the twin effects. (No I don’t mean that movie with Jackie Chan) But the double effect was really executed very well in this movie. And if you don’t get what I mean why don’t I explain it to you, it turns out there is two Deng Chao’s, t wouldn’t it be nice if there were really two, he could make more movies that way. Anyway, one of them is the fake one, and you might have guessed it; magical transformation skill, something that has been done a lot in movies to make some kind of impossible plot twist. And if I haven’t introduced you to the expert in transformational magic : Liu Yan as Ru Yan (Lady Fog)
although quite majestic looking, quite a villainous lady, stays on for part 3 also. With more transformations, I’m afraid the four likes to confuse us quite a bit with all these face changers. And if were talking about villains, the unexpected comeback of An Shigeng… well it’s not exactly what I was hoping for and even worse, he also stays on for part 3. Oh and since I told you before, I think I owe you a picture of what a tree human looks like,
Can’t believe this picture though, you would almost think it’s something really beautiful, the impossible love between a tree and a human. Haha no no, what am I saying ,seriously this movie is not like that.
And probably not that interesting, but here is some sort of clue how they turned him into a tree.
Well, as my concluding point. The movie has become a dramatical masterpiece (well, almost), mainly because we get to know the truth about the family of Emotionless. And we get to know who killed them, and why.
Without going too much into that, I’m try to have a spoiler free blog here, but I think at that point the movie got an entire new dimension! I did not see that coming! No no no. I think Liu Yifei’s acting was incredible, and everyone was great in the last scene actually. Just great. Even if you didn’t like part 1, you should give part 2 a try, and maybe even part 3, because wow… Well here it is actually:
THE FOUR 3 (四大名捕3) 2014
Emotionless, unable to forgive the past events stays with Jiao Niang (Tang Shui Mun). She even avoids Cold Blood, who had nothing to do with the death of her family. Cold Blood finds himself still entangled with Ji Yaohua, who is as we’ve seen in the previous movie a spy for Lord An. Ji Yaohua releases Ruyan (Liu Yan) from prison, they both work for Lord An. Meanwhile the emperor (Alec Su) wants to visit his people in the city. Cold Blood And Ji Yaohua accompany him but they are too late, the emperor’s boat explodes. The emperor goes missing and the culprit was not found. The emperor’s uncle, the prince (Lee Chi Hung) is a suspect and is arrested. But it turns out that the emperor is not dead, he escapes to the divine constabulary but is captured by Emotionless. Emotionless is angry, the emperor was responsible for the death of her family, she considers the idea to avenge her parents, but cannot settle on a decision.
But then a group of assassins attack the Inn, emotionless fights against them but they are too many. Luckily The divine constabulary comes to help. But then they also discover that Emotionless is hiding the emperor. They quickly release the emperor and decide to escort him back to general Di.
While they take great caution,Lord An discovers them. Then they see Ji Yaohua and discover that she betrayed them. Emotionless and the others are able to escape but Zhengwo fights Lord An and looses all his internal energy. Lord an also gives him Jiao Nang’s pendant, meaning that all the ones left at divine constabulary are dead.
The survivors, Cold Blood, Emotionless, the Emperor and a few escorts find themselves injured, tired, and grieving. But there is still a battle to fight….
In my opinion the third movie was the absolute best of the whole trilogy, everything that was introduced in the first two movies was taken to more depth. Emotionless had emotion, Cold blood was warm, Life snatcher didn’t snatch and Iron hands had his hands turned soft (at least, for a moment).
The fantasy style action didn’t disappoint either, with the addition of more explosions than previous movies, and the fast paced and 3d element weaponry, I was wide awake and eating chips faster than normal. And the burst of colourful qi coming of fists, swords and hidden weaponry was right before your eyes, as if it could hit you. Even the villains improved with the bad-ass Lord grandpa that scared me, damn it, with his qi absorbing magic. I’m happy we got rid of that guy eventually.
But I think the most important question that left us all at part 2 was, will Emotionless forgive the people that killed her family? It’s a question that stays throughout the whole movie and it’s what made this movie more interesting and captivating than the previous two. Especially with “the black inside white, white inside black” philosophy going on, yes I do have a thing for philosophy, but only if there are English subs…….
Was there anything missing in the movie? Well, maybe the only thing I was missing in this movie is Emotionless levitating objects with her mind power, the flying darts out of her hair did compensate a lot but still the first movie had some really cool mind power going. 10 pionts for Zhuge’s fire tornado though, haven’t seen that one before. Also there was that moment when the four and the emperor become one big field of energy, that was awesome wow. You’re really dead when they come flying at you like that.
OOooh, and let’s not forget, Alec Su, a brilliant addition to the cast, seriously, the most unbelievable jet brilliant/comical emperor ever. Seriously can’t believe they made him the emperor, but what a great decision, If there is ever a part 4, I hope we see him again.
Alec Su as Emperor Huizong of Song
Now as a last point I have to say, without spoiling too much, We don’t see what finally happened to An Shigeng, are they leaving something for a possible part 4? I do hope we get a part 4, but damn it I’m not looking forward to seeing An Shigeng doing his evil stuff again. But I’m worrying for nothing because I have not read any news about a possible part 4 so I’m afraid this will really be the last movie.
Ooh and I just want to say something about Ji Yaohua that I never thought I would say… But yes Ji Yaohua you are amazing, you were great… if you’ve seen part 3 you’ll know why I’m saying this.
But please, do yourself a favour, marathon the entire trilogy.
Until part 4, hopefully..