Sunday, 6 September 2015

Dragon Blade and The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate

Dragon Blade

The only true way to achieve peace is through song... and killing your enemies.

Jackie Chan is the leader of the Silk Road Protection Squad whose task is to keep the peace between the many different factions that use the road. There are a lot of dialects spoken in the film and it works in Jackie's favor to cover his "not so good" English. As expected, there are many funny moments for him to shine but these are overshadowed by the fantastic fight choreography (again, designed by Jackie Chan I think) throughout the movie. Also, while I was a bit disappointed to see all the non-lethal fights I should have known better since this movie isn't afraid of killing anyone. It just does all the killing towards the end. I quite like flicks with high body counts. :P

Why bother with armies when everyone duels anyway?

The sets are quite nice, and most of the background music is pretty cool too. That said there are a few sung numbers and the ones Jackie sings are middling to fair (if I'm being nice). They are very short in the scheme of things though (it's not a musical) so don't let that frighten you off. More problematic for me are some of the child actors who are in short, annoying. Also the film suffers from some strange editing decisions but the biggest flaw is having a modern day segment which is total fluff and really is just padding for time. If you cut that entire bit out, the whole movie would be better for it.

All up I give Dragon Blade three out of five shield bracers and recommend it to other action buffs, especially those who like Jackie Chan. Would I like to watch it again? Definitely! I'm just not sure where they got the title from.

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The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate

It's not just swords that are flying... there are arrows... and people... and buildings...

China is coming apart at the seams because the eunuchs of the East and West bureau are apparently really bad people and having their nuts cut off has given them special powers. They are so powerful that they even ride boats that go backwards and that can self repair instantly. Not that it matters though because Jet Li pretty much finishes dismantling one branch at the start of the film and his quest to take out the other (which happens to be chasing a pregnant lady) leads to a convoluted treasure hunt in the deep desert.

Gravity means nothing to these people.

Now I quite like Jet Li, and I do quite like the CGI on the large, panoramic shots and can forgive the obviously set piece desert scenes but come on. This story is ridiculously bad. That whole part of the eunuchs which they spend a fair bit of time with in the beginning is not even necessary to the plot, nor are half the characters. I might have been more forgiving if the body count was higher (definitely should have been) at the end but what really kills it are the gazillion unanswered questions and the surprisingly bad fight scenes.

Yes, I know! What the hell happened? There are fights where clearly motion is sped up like in those bad Highlander episodes, a ridiculous use of unbelievable wire work, and ludicrous fight decisions which can be sampled right at the beginning when people are kicking TREE TRUNKS around, sometimes into orbit. Then supposedly you can block said huge flying tree trunk with one hand. WHAT? There's a limit to my suspension of disbelief and this movie didn't just cross the line, it destroyed it with a tree log meteor. I give it one and a half sandstorms out of five and recommend that you give this one a pass. I think I'd prefer walking into a sand storm than watching it again.

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