FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON GATE, THE 3D
The hunt for an escaped concubine quickly turns into a game of cat-and-mouse, as the infamous Dragon Inn becomes the centre for an epic battle. As a gigantic storm looms on the horizon, ready to wipe out everything in its path, the cat-and-mouse game inside grows fiercer. Fortune, love and vengeance ... all could very well be gone with the wind.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Touted as the first 'wuxia' movie in 3D, Flying Swords makes the most of the third dimension by taking us to some of the most spectacular landscapes in China, from desert to cliff-tops with vertigo views.
For those not familiar with 'wuxia' think Robin Hood - as a genre. Wuxia are traditional figures in Chinese culture, martial artists who are chivalrous, helping the poor and oppressed, righting wrongs and serving no master.
Jet Li as the wuxia hero Chow Wai On is one of these, although it's not money he redistributes but power, as he gets tangled up in a treacherous plot emanating from the palace and involving a concubine who has gone missing, possibly pregnant to ... well, that is the question. But the film doesn't stop to labour this point in its pursuit of adventure with a martial arts edge.
Speaking of edge, it really is flying swords as the enemies face each other in countless sword fights with the added kick of martial arts manoeuvres. These include multi-spatial swordplay, in which the adversaries twirl their swords fiendishly, bat aside rapidly flying daggers and stab their way through the most complicated fight choreography since Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon - and as much wire work.
Hark Tsui has created an epic movie based on themes of identity and betrayal; four of the key characters are mistaken for others or have identity issues that impact on the plot. He takes time to bring us close to his characters via romantic or spiritual connections, and there is a rewarding complexity to even the most outlying character, such as the small Tartar clan.
Style touches include blood droplets in extreme close up in extreme slow-mo and arrow-cam. The wire work and the massive CGI input on items like the terrifying black sand storm - a crucial element in the story - are exemplary. Likewise the sound and the extensive orchestral score.
Tsui, only the fourth Chinese director to be invited onto the jury at Cannes (2004), was awarded the Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2011 New York Asian Film Festival. His star continues to rise with this film.
First published in the Sun Herald
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FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON GATE, THE 3D (M)
CAST: Jet Li, Siu-Wong Fan, Xun Zhou, Lun Mei Kwai, Kun Chen
PRODUCER: Hark Tsui, Jeffrey Chan, Nansun Chi
DIRECTOR: Hark Tsui
SCRIPT: Hark Tsui
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Sung Fai Choy
EDITOR: Chi Wai Yau
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Bill Lui
RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 15, 2011