Netflix livestream Dynasty Warriors follows Hack’n’slash closely. Urban Fusions have listed the main differences between the movie and the Dynasty Warriors video game. Developed by Omega Force and published by Koei Tecmo, the Dynasty Warriors games are based in their narrative course on the historical third-century text, The Tale of the Three Kingdoms, which chronicles the last years of the Han Dynasty. While the Netflix adaptation attempts to bring gaming history to the big screen, some major differences inevitably creep in.
Directed by Roy Hen Yong Chu (Nightfall), Dynasty Warriors stars Louis Koo as General Lu Bu, who is best known for his penchant for treachery and plans to establish himself as an independent force against Cao’s forces. Cao (Wang Kai). The live-action movie also focuses on the brave Guan Yu (Han Geng) and the self-proclaimed Emperor Shu, Liu Bei (Tony Yang). In order to convey the overall look of the popular video game series, the movie uses exaggerated action sequences, giant armies, ridiculous attacking moves, and heavy metal guitar picks.
Interestingly enough, Dynasty Warriors begins with a battle that feels like it’s out of the games. Liu Bei, Zhang Fei (Justin Cheung) and Guan Yu arrive on the scene and massively wipe out entire battalions, literally causing people to fly into the battlefield. This reflects the glamorous special effects of games over the years, and is further highlighted by the choice of soundtrack included in the footage. Here are some of the biggest differences between the original games and the Netflix adaptation.
The historical narrative of the adaptation is very accurate and brief
Dynasty Warriors has always had a very rich history in the game, which revolves mainly around the kingdoms of Wei, Wu and Shu, with other unaffiliated factions mainly appearing. This will likely pave the way for a stunning and story-rich adaptation complemented by gorgeous action sequences that mirror those of the beloved games. However, the Netflix adaptation of Dynasty Warriors remains hectic and limited, completely missing out on the opportunity to capitalize on and expand on the game’s massive historical depth. Instead, the adaptation focuses on how the three protagonists in the opening sequence unite through their loyalty to the Han Dynasty, working together to win back the infant emperor. Liu Bian after being deposed by Machiavelli Dong Chu (Sout Lam).
This narrative decision is not only a missed opportunity, but it also makes it difficult to immerse themselves in the world of the franchise for viewers who discover it for the first time. While any mod requires some level of prior knowledge and understanding on the part of the audience, Netflix’s Dynasty Warriors asks viewers to fill in the gaps. Needless to say, this detracts from the history of the heroes involved, as they lack any personal depth or motivation whatsoever. Unfortunately, only fans of the franchise or players with average or sufficient knowledge of the history of the game will be able to understand the full scope and breadth of the historical saga.
The Netflix adaptation makes no effort to justify narrative twists and turns
Since its inception, the Dynasty Warriors series has come a long way, especially in terms of graphics and in-game immersion. The first game wasn’t much different from Street Fighter, where players could simply choose the characters and themselves. Fight one-on-one. However, starting with Dynasty Warriors 2, players can engage in Battles of the Three Kingdoms and immerse themselves in a coherent story, while later games have moved into third-person storytelling with subtle narrative branches. From the standpoint of longtime fans, most adaptation story arcs would make sense, but the lack of proper presentation and creative decision to continue hampers the plot significantly.
Why, for example, does the most formidable fighter in Dong Zhuo’s army, Lu Bu, fall in love with his commander’s unknown lover, Diao Chan? If players are familiar with Diao Chan’s original story, which differs a lot due to its open-ended nature, non-novice viewers may have a hard time understanding this particular development. Similarly, what mysterious magical weapons were given to the honorary trio by the lord of the Castle of the Forge of Swords (Karina Lau)? The introduction of the weapons of mystical power feels like a central plot point, which cannot be seen or used in any way. In the absence of narrative meaning, the film makes up for its lost splendor with its own chaotic and joyous special effects.
Overall, Netflix’s Dynasty Warriors closely follows the original game series in terms of design and aesthetics, but deviates significantly from them in terms of narrative depth and character development. You could say the adaptation is trying to imitate games a bit honestly, reducing the strength of the visual medium and innate differences in terms of technical prowess and translatability. However, if one just wants to get a taste of the epic fight sequences reminiscent of Rurouni Kenshin: The Final and Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity (both available on Netflix as well), Dynasty Warriors can be quite entertaining to watch. Some of the sequences, in particular, are particularly exciting to watch, like the one in which Cao Cao escapes from the royal court on his horse through brick roofs, stops near the woods and survives an avalanche.
As a reminder, Dynasty Warriors has been available to stream on Netflix since July 1, 2021.