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Another great movie from Donnie Yen. And, if not rare still there are not much action movies for which you can openly claim everyone acted very good.
Check it out.
Dragon (known under the equally generic title "Wuxia" in Asia) is really about two characters who collide in 1917 China. One is a former cannibal killer (Donnie Yen) who left his father's cult/clan to start a new life, get married and have kids. The other is a detective (Takeshi Kaneshiro) who sublimates his empathy with acupuncture so he can focus single-mindedly on justice, part Sherlock and part Judge Dredd, out to prove Liu Jin-xi isn't who he now claims he is. The complex "Noir Fu" story ambiguously lets the two protagonists straddle the line between friendship and enmity, and there is, of course, a bigger threat (played by Jimmy Wang Yu, famous for The One-Armed Swordsman). At its core, the film is about one's humanity. One character seeks to redeem his, the other to dispense with it. There's an awesome deconstruction of a fight scene in the first art that's a real work of art, and lots of cool action besides, but really, it's the character drama that makes it one of the better Asian films I've seen this year.
There's some confusion that arises from the title of this latest Chinese martial arts film - both in the original Chinese and in the Western alternative. The Chinese title "Wu Xia" is the genre name for all this type of historical, often romantic, martial arts dramas from China - but any chance of this film being good enough to somehow represent the whole genre falls far short. The Western title is also strange, as there is never any reference to the central character being likened to a dragon - the only reason I can think of for the choice of word is to make people think of Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" that exploded the Wuxia genre into Western consciousness in 2000. The dragon here is also hidden, but comparisons with that great film (and the excellent run of films that followed it to our cinema screens, including Zhang Yimou's brilliant "Hero" and "The House of Flying Daggers") are harmful as well. It not a patch on those films in any respect, visually, story or performance wise, and ten years on this feels a lot like treading water.
Donnie Yen plays Liu Jinxi, a simple paper maker and family man living in 1917 rural China, who gets caught up in a robbery of the local general store and through supposed blind luck manages to kill both the criminals. The investigation headed up by Takeshi Kaneshiro's Xu Baijiu uses a sort of "C.S.I: Yunnan Province" approach to discover the truth -
Yen is a pretty good actor as well as a highly accomplished martial artist so his transition in our eyes from slightly dopey husband and father . Kaneshiro's has a harder time as the supposedly super smart detective, master of physiology, because the character is essentially an unlikeable jobsworth whose relentless investigation directly leads to a lot of unnecessary death and destruction, not to mention some of his smart ideas turn out to be rubbish. And that's where most of the problem lies - the story is ridiculous, and events in the last third of the film ruin an intriguing set-up. There's a string of events that induced inappropriate laughter in my screening - Some of the cinematography and art design is impressive, but there's an overuse of slow motion, and CGI rushing around inside the human body as nerves snap and hearts stop which isn't as impressive as director Peter Chan seems to think it is. Not a good representative of the Wuxia genre, whatever the title is.
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Currently in 1 official list, but has been in 2
Highest official list rank ever is #137 and lowest is #1343