I am not really big on wuxia films but lately, I have been wanting to watch Asian films–in whatever form–in the cinema as opposed to watching on my laptop. I guess that’s also the effect of watching too many dramas online than I ever did.
So I did get to spend Saturday night watching Tsui Hark’s Flying Swords of Dragon Gate. It’s a 3D movie but the cinema in Bangkok that screens it with the Chinese soundtrack and English subtitles does not offer it on 3D. And that’s a pity because I have read reviews saying the 3D in this film was not pointless. I could just imagine how those sword/fight scenes looked like in 3D but oh well, c’est la vie.
The film is led by Jet Li. (I’m glad it’s not Donnie Yen. I guess some Hong Kongers’ distaste for him has been infectious.) But Chen Kun is the scene stealer with a double role as a Ming Dynasty official and a bumbling warrior. I was looking hard at the screen because there were some scenes, especially when he was playing the treasure hunter White Blade, that he looked like Ken Zhu. This character also provided the comic relief in the film.
But just like any Tsui Hark films, the female characters are prominent. The female casts were Zhou Xun, Gui Lun-mei, Li Yuchun and Mavis Pan (some may be curious to see the model who was in a scandal with Raymond Lam).
It was Gui Lun-mei who stood out among the female cast as a beguiling tribal princess (Tartars). Her look was different from anything you have seen her in: darkened skin tone, long braided hair, facial tattoos. During the first few minutes I saw her onscreen, I thought she looked familiar but I couldn’t identify her. I forgot she was in the cast and I thought they had cast a newbie actress.
This was part of her transformation process:
The CGI was not something you haven’t seen before but I wonder if that was because I was not watching it on 3D.
But 2D was still fun because of the sub-plots revealing that the characters who found themselves in the Dragon Inn just before a black sandstorm are not who they claim to be.
Tsui Hark and Jet Li hamming it up for GQ:
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