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I really wasn't hot on seeing this film. I'm not into cartoons, and even less into fighting movies. But my friends wanted to see it and so in I went. I have to say that going to watch the film with not expecting anything much might have helped, but I actually really liked it. I'm amazed that this was made in Hong Kong. The last thing I saw like this was Shrek which was very funny - but this is actually a lot more cooler. Even with me not being into fight stuff I was really tensed up for the fighting bits. I actually left nail marks on my bf's arm :p Also, what I really liked was that they didn't make the girl part (Ying Ying) in the film too girly. I mean, she was actually even cooler than the lead guy. I really had to laugh at the way she controlled Lang - go girl power go! I'm going to get the DVD and learn some of her moves ;)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this film this evening at the Freer Gallery in Washington, DC, as part of their 10th Annual Made in Hong Kong Festival. Yes, yes I understand it is the first ever computer generated kung-fu movie out of Hong Kong, but it was awful. I guess this is as much a rant about the film as it is about including it in the film festival. This is an example of a highly pandering (can you say that?) direct to video for pre-schoolers. The animation is completely awful. It looks like a late 80s video game...just purely awful. I will give it that some of the fighting is 'neat', but did that make me want to sit through 90 mins of horror for? NO. It references countless films. As a cinephile of course ya get me every time...but in recent days this has become far too much (a few other films in this 'genre' come to mind). It is just one and another reference, line, on and on...are you trying justify us parents (not that I am one) sitting through this garbage? This is a great example of a direct to video minor film. Then again do we need more examples of that?
I'm not sure who it was that described this movie as "Crouching Tiger
meets Shrek", because that in itself sets an unreasonable benchmark in
all sorts of ways. Let's be fair here, both Shrek and Crouching Tiger
won Oscars, for crying out loud. Dragonblade is first and foremost an
animated children's feature, produced on a shoestring budget -
particularly compared to the sackfuls of money thrown at the likes of
Shrek. Moreover, the only similarity with Crouching Tiger is in that
martial arts are featured in this film, but it's far from being an art
house movie, nor does it pretend to be so.
As far as plots go, it's not the most complex out there - but then again, you have to constantly remind yourself throughout that it's a kids' film. Boy meets girl, girl has idiot brother, idiot brother lives up to expectations, mysterious monster terrorizes village, boy sets off on quest to find weapon to defeat monster, all is well in the end. Characters are introduced throughout the story, mostly diversionary, some irritating - of these, three spring to mind - the obligatory cartoon sidekick animal creature, the funky Guardian spirit and the grammatically-challenged teacher type (oh why does wisdom equate with a Yoda-like sentence construction?).
What is scintillating about this film is the martial arts. Directed by a martial artist himself, the film attempts to do justice to the intricacies of wushu. Several fighting styles are apparent in the film, carefully rendered and presented in a way that wushu purists will feel vindicated, yet non-experts will be entertained. The various set-pieces between characters are unique, exciting, laudable. In that respect, definitely enough to keep accompanying parents entertained for the duration of the film - along with various script nods to other films. From the not-so-subtle Taxi Driver innuendos to the blatant Babe reference. With a little Klingon thrown in.
I would have like to see much, much more action in the film. The pacing of the plot is slightly uneven (let's get to the throwdown, people!), with too much time spent on story exposition and not enough on the central premise of the film - it's a cartoon action movie for kids, right? Again, the budget must be kept in mind when appreciating the animation involved. Then again, it's not meant to be realistic - it's a cartoon, folks.
Just as Mulan worked in English and not so much when dubbed into Chinese, I believe this film to be the opposite, appealing in far greater amounts in its original Cantonese version. Voiced by actors recognizeable to the Chinese-speaking market, the idioms and language used, along with the singular heritage of the movie leading to its setting, makes it immediately less corny than its English counterpart.
In summary, it's a good little kids' movie, with enough in it for accompanying parents to appreciate. Moreover, as a film 100% produced in Hong Kong, it's definitely something that Hong Kong can be proud of.
At first I thought, "what did I get myself into?". Twenty minutes into the movie and I started looking at my watch and wishing that I wasn't here. I didn't come all the way to Hong Kong to watch a crap Kungfu movie! Then all of a sudden Ka-POW! Talk about being worth the wait. DragonBlade is a roller coaster ride with a long way up in the beginning. And as we all know, the further up that roller coaster goes... the bigger and more exciting that ride ends up. I just can't imagine anyone getting the total impact of the fights without watching it on the big screen the fights are so in your face that it absolutely pulls you in. So worth seeing.
Hong Kong's first fully-fledged computer-animated movie is, for the most part, a treat. Distinctly Chinese in its orchestration, the fantasy elements are played up for the kids, the humour a little too cagey to really laugh at, while the martial arts spectacles are really quite astonishing. The story concerns local hero Hung Lang, a kung fu supremo, who befriends a talking bird (of course) and is sent on a dangerous adventure to retain the sacred Dragon Blade from the mystically cavernous underworld known as Asteria, facing insurmountable peril along the way, in order to slain the Boar King, a giant pig-looking tyrant causing havoc in the town. The characters are a little wet, particularly our soulless hero, yet Karen Mok's engaging sidekick Ying Ying is a worthy substitute, and the delirious spurts of action make the whole experience quite compelling.
Dragonblade (Chinese Version) is great success; the fighting scenes are
filled with excitement, tension and romance. I was invited to the
Dragonblade Charity Premiere (in Hong Kong) and I watched the movie
before it was released in the cinemas. The sounding could have been so
much better, however, we watched it in a lousy cinema, but if you watch
this movie in a good cinema, the sounding would be so much better.
The movie is filled with a great deal of Hong Kong humor and however the language is awfully vulgar (especially for kids, but they wouldn't understand those jokes). This movie is spectacularly hilarious, and I would like to watch the English version of Dragonblade. Apparently, the English version of Dragonblade is much better than the Chinese version, because the movie was originally English. This movie is going to be released internationally, and it is going to be a very successful animation movie. I am truly impressed by the standard of this movie; you would not expect such a good movie made entirely by Hong Kong animators. This film should be internationally recognized, because the standard of this film is definitely high compared to other Hong Kong movies. Although it may not be as good as 'The Incredibles' or 'Monsters Inc.', as in storyline, the fighting scenes are completely worth watching, and the jokes will definitely crack you up!!! The story is quite basic and straightforward, there are no complicated or confusing scenes, which is good in a way. I would recommend this movie to everybody, especially Hong Kong viewers, because they should be proud of the Hong Kong animators, this film is produced and made in Hong Kong. I would recommend this movie to animation lovers and mainly teenagers, because the language to quite vulgar for young kids.
Dragonblade is a fantastic sensation! Congratulations to Wendy Choi!
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