Flying Swords of Dragon Gate – 2/5 Movie Reviews by Ry!

Flying Swords of Dragon Gate – 2/5 – I will start off by saying this, I am a fan of Martial Arts film.  I have a plethora of these kinds of films in my collection, and enjoy watching them.  With that being said, not every single one that I have or seen can be labeled as a great martial arts film.  For anything that can be extravagant within the fighting sequence and set pieces, if there isn’t a half decent story to link these moments or acceptable acting, it all becomes dull and boring.  For this Jet Li film, it falls into that category.  What could have been a cinematic reel of great fights, turned into a messy aspect of a story lost with action that is dull.  Everything that could have been, just isn’t found in this film.

The premise is as followed:

Set three years after Dragon Inn, an innkeeper has disappeared and a new inn has been rebuilt.  This new inn is staffed by marauders, masquerading as law-abiding citizens.  These people plant this inn so they can unearth a fabled lost city, buried in the desert.

Let me start off by saying, that the only actor/actress worth naming with any great quality is Jet Li.  His character as Zhao Huai’an is the leader of the rebel forces in the movie.   Being as such, he brings the quality he always brings to any martial arts movie; commanding, calculated and very well versed.  Outside of the acrobatic acts he performs, he gives decent dialogue delivery when he is on screen and talking.  He represents a real person in these kinds of roles.  When the cameras are focused on him, it is a proven high, and you at least care enough for what he is doing and the actions he is performing.  Outside of his great performance, the only other character that was close to this performance is Xun Zhou.  She plays the love interest, Ling Yanqiu.  Outside of being a typical love interest archetype, she provides a slight deep character, which can fight.  She has some excellent action scenes, and performs epically with the acrobatic work.  Now, the rest of the characters are one-dimensional.  They, cartoonishly, play the typical good and bad characters to the tee.  With lack of delivery, combined with a lack in the fighting area, they pull the quality of the film down a whole lot.  When the focus of the film is based around action and set pieces, you need decent acting to build up those scenes.   The acting doesn’t stack up, and it makes you uninterested in all the fighting, including the climax.

The direction of the film is very lackluster.  The movie starts up so fast, that there is lack of story or character development.  This causes you to become confused at the real focus or main idea behind the film.  Some of the fight scenes in the beginning will make you aware of the time period, but then you lose that interest and just stare at the clock, waiting for the movie to end.  Once the film starts to slow down, all the characters show up, and you become even more lost within the plot.  There isn’t any point for certain things happening in the film, and everything became conveniently positioned to move the movie along.  The common plot devices, which consist of things like hidden treasures, uprising, evil government and ultimate triumphant, felt overly abused in this film, as well as way too outlandish.  The outlandish behavior makes the ‘seriousness’ that the director tries to introduce feel comical and unwanted.  It destroys the tone of the film, and just makes you feel like you are wasting your time.  The few blossoming parts of the directions were some of the action sequences, including the beginning and everything between Jet Li and the main villain.  Seeing Jet Li perform the stunts and fight keeps some awesome feel to the movie, but it eventually drags into a terrible ending and makes you wonder, what could have been.

The visuals are stunning.  With epic and grandeur, you have a colossal look at ancient China, as well as vast deserts and sweeping vistas.  These visuals bring enough merits to make the movie ‘not bad’, but not enough to make it worth watching.

Overall, the only thing I could say about the movie is, it is only for the most dedicated fans to martial arts films.  If you can withstand some horrendous directing and acting, you’ll be entertained by most of the action scenes.  No recommendation for purchase, or rental, just a passable look on TV.

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