Flying Swords of Dragon Gate

2011 [CHINESE]

Action / Adventure

IMDb Rating 6 10 7955

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
September 01, 2021 at 03:10 AM



Siu-Wong Fan as Ma Jinliang
Chia-Hui Liu as Wan Yulou
Xun Zhou as Ling Yanqiu
Kun Chen as Yu Huatian / Pu Cangzhou / Blade in the Wind
1.1 GB
chi 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 2 min
P/S counting...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by simon_booth 5 / 10

Tsui Hark favours special effects over character and plot again

Tsui Hark goes back to the well to draw fresh inspiration, returning once more to King Hu's classic Dragon Gate Inn - which he already remade rather wonderfully in 1992. The story is given a fresh set of details to flesh it out, but the basic skeleton remains the same - evil eunuchs, patriotic rebels and independent forces of uncertain allegiance all converge on the eponymous inn, where identities are masked and secrets concealed until a game of wits allows the various parties to ascertain where they all stand - and exactly whose ass they need to kick.

This is not the first time that Tsui Hark has convinced himself that what one of his classic films really needed was an update with loads of CGI - witness Legend of Zu in 2001, an exercise which failed to convince anybody else of that viewpoint. This time he has an extra decade of Chinese experience in CGI to draw on though, and what's more... now he can do it in 3D! Well, I will have to take the internet's word for that, 'cause I watched in boring old 2D (albeit HD). Can he convince us this time that computer graphics are the tool he's been waiting for all along to truly unleash his imagination? No, he can't. Aside from a few impressive moments, the CGI still looks rather fake, and fails to impress or engage as well as the low-budget special effects (wires, clever camera work) that made the 1992 film such an impressive spectacle. Furthermore, he seems to have failed to note the main factor that caused Legend of Zu to rank so much lower in fans' hearts than its 1983 predecessor... all the special effects in the world won't engage an audience if they don't get involved in the story. Well-defined, likable (or hateable, where appropriate) characters whose fates we actually care about will encourage us to forgive any weaknesses in the special effects, but the converse is rarely true. Flying Swords of Dragon Gate fails to deliver on characters, and fails to develop the plot. The film begins by introducing the political intrigues of the court and the rival factions of the Eunuchs, then fails to provide any particular relevance to this detail. Jet Li plays a rebel who we assume to be patriotic, but doesn't actually offer any explanation whatsoever as to as his motivations, his particular plights, or much of a character at all (though he gets more than most). Various groups are introduced, and brought together at the inn, then the film sort of flounders for a little bit before everybody just sort of decides its time to start fighting. The sense of intrigue, the subtle details, the game of wits as these master fighters out-smart and out-guess each other... the actual meat of King Hu's original film, in other words... pretty much replaced by 'hey, one of the good guys happens to look exactly like the chief bad guy!'.

Oh well, Jet Li's on hand, so at least there must be some spectacular action, right? Oh yeah, I forgot... he got old. There are some nicely choreographed action scenes in places, but with too much reliance on CGI of mixed effectiveness.

Maybe I'm viewing the older films with a touch of rose-tinting, or maybe I'm just getting old and tHe KidZ will see the many virtues of the latest attempt to improve a classic that I'm missing. It probably did look quite spectacular in 3D-capable cinemas... but I am yet to be convinced that that can ever take the place of a well written script, or a director who still remembers that he has human actors on set somewhere, and that getting a great performance out of them is probably the most important of his job.

Reviewed by BigGuy 5 / 10

CGI Jet Li

I have to say I was a disappointed in this movie. If you are going to have Jet Li as the main character, why CGI so much of the martial arts? Almost none of the martial arts scenes were live action, and those that were live action were sadly lacking in clarity, the director preferring quick cuts and flash over substance.

The story itself wasn't bad. It is a bit more complicated than the average kung-fu movie, which explains the two hour run time of the movie. Sadly, much of the depth in the movie felt added on, as if they took a chunk from several movies and added them together.

Also, I have to say, the opening sequence reminded me of something your would see at the beginning of a video game, rather than an actual movie.

I would wait to see this one on video.

Reviewed by moviexclusive 6 / 10

Thrilling action and the best use of 3D since 'Avatar'- pity the frenetic overplotting, the underwritten characters and most of all, an underused Jet Li)

Who better to attempt the world's first 3D 'wuxia' movie than Tsui Hark- the man is behind some of the genre's most iconic representations like 'The Swordsman', 'Green Snake' and 'Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain', and with the latter also a pioneer for introducing Hollywood- style special effects to Chinese cinema. It seems befitting therefore that almost thirty years later, Tsui Hark should be the one to import the latest Hollywood fad for the same genre- and true enough, the veteran director's maiden effort at the third dimension is nothing less than impressive.

Like James Cameron, Tsui brings his considerable experience as a director to bear on the use of 3D to immerse his viewer into his cinematic vision. Gimmicks aside (yes, you'll still find all kinds of flying objects- wooden beams, arrows, knives and swords- coming straight at you), Tsui crafts each shot- static or moving- meticulously to create depth in every one of them and provide raison d'etre for the use of 3D. Tsui has of course had some generous help from Hollywood expert Chuck Comisky (who oversaw the visual effects for 'Avatar'), and the result is a milestone for the 'wuxia' genre as well as for Chinese cinema.

Alas for all its technical achievements, this loose remake of his classic 'New Dragon Gate Inn' unfortunately is let down by more conventional elements like plot and character. As with his earlier movie, the setup here is also the gathering of three disparate groups of individuals at a trading post in the middle of the desert. On one hand, there is the vigilante Zhao Huai'an (Jet Li), Zhao's female equivalent Ling Lanqiu (Zhou Xun), as well as a runaway palace maid Su (Mavis Fan) impregnated by the Emperor and therefore an assassination target by the Empress to preserve the lineage. On the other, there are the formidable Western Bureau troops, led by their fearsome commander Yu Huatian (Chen Kun), who have been sent by the Empress to kill Su and eliminate those opposed to the reigning monarchy.

The pursuit of the latter for the former leads their paths to cross with a ragtag group of bandits in search of ancient treasure buried under the sand near the inn. The advent of a once-in-60-years major sandstorm is supposed to unearth the treasure, and among those waiting to get a share of the riches are Gu Shaotang (Li Yuchun), Yu Huatian's doppelganger White Blade (also Chen Kun) as well as an intimidating Tartar warrior princess Buludu (Gwai Lun Mei) and her band of loutish tribesmen. Setting up such a sheer number of characters takes time, and a good half-hour is spent on exposition detailing these individuals and their relationships with each other. The effect of this after an exciting first half-hour watching Zhao assassinate the leader of the Eastern Front (Gordon Liu) and then finding himself outmatched by Yu is like adding a lead weight to the proceedings, so much so that what momentum the film had going for it is almost completely lost.

Perhaps even more significant is that Jet Li is practically absent during this half-hour, and by the time he does reappear to join in the action-packed finale, it's too late for any significant characterisation to allow his crusading warrior Zhao Huai'an to rise above the fray. There is a past romance hinted at with Zhou Xun's Ling, but Tsui provides too little elaboration on it- and if Jet Li's Zhao is thinly drawn, you can pretty much guess that the rest of the characters also suffer the same fate.

Not only does this first reunion of Tsui Hark and Jet Li outside the 'Once Upon A Time in China' series fail to create a cinematic icon like Wong Fei-Hung, it also gives Jet Li surprisingly little to do in the action department. As if hemmed in by the movie's title, Jet Li is almost always duelling only with his swords while performing some gravity-defying flight through the air, with ultimately too little of the lightning-quick hand-to-hand combat we've come to love about the action star. Not to say that Yuen Bun's action choreography doesn't thrill (it does, especially with Tsui's ability to direct elaborate action sequences), but one hopes that Yuen (who was also behind Tsui's 'New Dragon Gate Inn' back in 1992)- and his co-choreographers Lan Ha Han and Sun Jiankui- had exploited Jet Li's martial arts prowess for more.

While it fails to capitalise on its key asset (i.e. Jet Li), the film does deliver some thrilling action sequences that blend old-school choreography with modern-day CG wizardry- the showdown between Zhao and Yu right in the middle of a raging sandstorm is an excellent example of this combination. Amid the wire-ful stunts, the excellently staged swordplay stands out- and it is Zhou Xun, rather than Jet Li, who impresses with her elegant moves. Kudos too to Choi Sung-fai's fluid cinematography and Yau Chi-wan's deft editing in all the elaborately staged action sequences- especially one which seamlessly intercuts between the action inside the inn and below the inn when the triumvirate first converge.

In terms of visual spectacle, Tsui Hark is definitely at the top of his game, both the action choreography and the initiation of 3D into the 'wuxia' genre easily establishing itself as one of the must-see classics. Nonetheless, for all its technical achievements, this latest reworking of the 'Dragon Inn' mythology is let down by its poorly drawn characters and at times its frenetic over-plotting of deceptions and double-crosses. And even as Tsui has more than proved his prowess with new-fangled Hollywood magic, one wishes that he had also not forgotten his faculty for old-school elements like plot and character- after all, it was these that made his 1992 'New Dragon Gate Inn' such an enduring masterpiece.

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