Thursday, January 31, 2013


Flying Swords of Dragon Gate (2011) is sort of the reboot of Dragon Inn (1992) by the same producer, Hark Tsui. Of course, that was a remake of King Hu's 1967 Dragon Inn. Never mind that. They all share a basic premise - evil eunuchs want to kill someone quietly, and chose to do it at a secluded inn on the border. The fun comes from the complications.

In this version, the MacGuffin is a maid (Mavis Fan), pregnant with the imperial heir. There are two eunuchs and a concubine after her. On her side are freedom fighter Jet Li, a woman warrior, some treasure hunters and a bunch of other people who I can't keep straight. Guilty bystanders include a gang of Tartars staying at the end - all tattooed and punked out - lead by another woman warrior. She was one of my favorite characters.

But all the women were good. In one big fight, there are about 5 women fighting on various sides, and no men. I guess that's traditional in Dragon Inn stories. Of course, none of them are Maggie Cheung or Brigitte Lin like in the 1992 movie. In fact, I haven't heard of any of the female leads - or the male leads outside of Jet Li. But they are all great fun, and Jet Li actually doesn't get as much screen time as you'd expect. He's kind of a secondary character.

I should mention the wild computer animation. Like in Detective Dee, computer models stand in for most of the architecture, ships and scenery. But there are some interesting non- or sur-realistic touches, like having Li turn into an eagle when he attacks. A lot less nutty than Zu Mountain Warriors, but more fantastical than Detective Dee.

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