We're back on the Silk Road, this time in Western China (Xinjiang province) 14 centuries ago. Lai Xi (Kiichi Nakai), a Japanese swordsman in the Tang Emperor's court, is assigned to capture and kill "Butcher" Li (Jiang Wen), a once-respected army officer accused of treason because he refused to kill women and children in a raid. Lai Xi and Li make an uneasy truce long enough to escort a general's daughter (Vicky Zhao Wei) and a Buddhist monk to safety. Can they escape the pursuit of evil Master An (Wang Xueqi), the preening aesthete and superslick fighter who stands in their path?
Warriors isn't up there with Crouching Tiger and Hero. It meanders in places then rushes through a half-dozen climaxes, including one with weak visual effects (and copped from Raiders of the Lost Ark). But Zhao Fei's cinematography is ravishing, the actors bring heft and glamour to their roles, and the battle scenes have a clanging thrill to them. When the good guys and bad guys wage a group sword fight on horseback, you'll wonder why Hollywood ever thought it could get away with boring old guns.