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|Index||25 reviews in total|
Jiang Wen is a good actor and great director. He reminds me of Clint
Eastwood, who is also a good actor and great director. Wen Jiang only
have 4 films as director, he is not productive but every film he made
is masterpiece to me. I love the Devils on the Doorstep most, it tell
some truth no one fear to say.
Let The Bullets Fly is newest work of Jiang Wen. I watched the Chuan idiom edition today, very love it. Chuan idiom is one of Chinese hundreds idiom, the people live in Sichuan Province and Chongqing use it in their daily life. The reason why the movie have a idiom edition because the script is adapted from a novel of a old Sichuan writer. That's too much fun to watch the movie with the familiar idiom. However I love it not because the idiom, the reason is it's a good movie.
This movie is mixture of Quentin Tarantino and Sergio Leone, full of bizarre funny idea and masculinity. The last film The Sun Also Rises is criticized too vague, so this one is totally a commercial film. But as the one said in this film, he can made money without knee to others, Jiang Wen not knee to business, there's no disgusting ads and low-grade lines only passion for a good work, that's not easy for present Chinese film. This is why I respect him.
Some sensitive people like me aware some political metaphor in this film, this feeling is similar to the one I felt in Devils on the Doorstep. Jiang Wen knows Chinese deeply, or maybe he just so brave and smart can tell the public what he knows. Someones know the truth but they keep it and exchange it with fortune. Someones speak it loudly and directly, they only scared the public and get suffering. Of course in Jiang Wen's way, only small amount of people know what he want to say, but that's enough. Truth always rests with the minority.
Although this is a good movie, the non Chinese native speakers may found a little difficult to understand it, it like more a Cult than a commercial film to them.
There are so many funny metaphors but you do need to be somewhat acquainted with Chinese to understand them. I think this will be a difficult film for non-Chinese to grasp, especially with a lot of deadpan satire and dark humor. It is extremely funny in a way, especially the scene between Jiang Wen and Carina Lau where she displayed a series of objects to him in bed. You won't "get it" if you don't understand Chinese proverbs and surreptitious meaning. So I'm not surprised if this movie will be rated exceptionally intelligent to its Chinese audience but will appear to many as silly, improbable and illogical.
In early 1920s, China was in civil war and it was an era when disorder
became part of life. Bangde Ma ( GE, You) who just became the mayor of
a remote town through bribery was robbed by a group of bandits led by
Pock Zhang ( JIANG, Wen). However Ma could not afford any ransom
because he had used up all his money for bribery and the only way to
collect money was to use the ruling power of the mayor title. Zhang
decided to take Ma's position as the new mayor while Ma posed as his
private adviser under the name of Tang.
Their destination, the Goose Town, was actually controlled by notorious mafia clan of the Huang family and the only way to collect money was to fully cooperate with the family and handed out most of their gains. However Zhang was only interested in rich families black money and believed in fair justice for each person, which made Huang the IV ( CHOW, Yun-Fat), the boss of the clan, very very unhappy. Almost immediately Zhang and Huang became enemies and the Goose Town would soon turn to be a battle field as well as a stage of hypocrisy, cheating, apathy and snobbery.
The first impression of the movie is that it is no doubt of a typical Hollywood style action comedy composed by every piece of commercial element you can find in other Hollywood action movies such as gun firing, explosions, beauties, muscles, fast moving, slangs, and etc. The movie itself is of great fun and you will laugh from the beginning to the end. Also the story is told in a straightforward way and there would be no problem of understanding it even if you have no idea where China is located. The problem, however, is how to interpret Jiang Wen. Let the Bullets Fly is becoming one of the hottest and the most appraised movies in recent years in China neither because it is more dazzling than the Avatar nor because it is more surprising than the Inception. It is welcomed because many Chinese viewers regard the story as a mirror of present China and a movie with strong critical acclaim should have not been approved for public show by the authority such as Jiang Wen's previous movie the Devils on the Doorstep. Interestingly, different people can interpret the movie in a way they like and this may be the power of a comedy. Frankly speaking, if you are not a Chinese, chances are you will enjoy the movie for funny stuff while not the metaphor of the movie.
At the time of this writing, this is listed as China's highest-grossing
domestic film. I went into it expecting some kind of action-packed
blockbuster (especially with the title "Let the Bullets Fly," got me
expecting stylish John Woo style gunfights or something). I should have
known that this film couldn't be identified by blockbuster terms; it's
actually a pretty weird and goofy film, with far less emphasis on
action and much more on setting up intricate dialogues and intricate
plot points. On its own merits, the film is very fast-paced and dense;
it has some gunfighting and action, and a few rather violent scenes,
but most of it is focused on the storytelling.
The storytelling is satisfying. Even though the comedy can be a huge hit-or-a-miss, and there are a few unbelievable scenes, the characters shine through and dominate the spotlight. It's hard not to enjoy the antics of the bandits and the thugs, and their complex interactions. It's especially hard not to appreciate the complexity of the plotting and counter-plotting that both gangs go through; with the rapid-fire pacing, it may be convoluted for some viewers, but I was never fully lost. Each scene is set up to advance the plot in strange new directions, leading up to a rather fun climax. In the end, I enjoyed watching the chemistry between the characters and their intricate mind games, more than the action.
This film has quality photography, and some really fast editing. Acting can be very over-the-top, but Chow Yun-Fat and Jiang Wen both put on iconic performances. Writing is quite witty and sharp. This production has fine-looking period sets, props, and costumes. Certain special effects look awful, but they are few and very far between. Music for this picture is okay (it includes a pretty odd use of drums and chanting toward the end).
Chances are that some folks will find the comedy, fast pacing, and complex plot a little hard to follow, so I'd recommend it as a rental. Connoisseurs of Asian cinema will probably enjoy this a little more easily than average western audiences.
4/5 (entertainment: 4/5, story: 4.5/5, film: 4/5)
With the current election fever brewing in Singapore, one can't help
but to view this through a tinted prism and taken note of the surreal,
and perhaps coincidental parallels in this Jiang Wen film about the
relentless grab for power and money amongst officials and wannabes, of
that fight for moral justice against another hell bent on consolidating
ill gotten gains and fending off new entrants to the turf. Jiang Wen
doesn't make as many films as he stars in, but here's a Chinese
filmmaker with an interesting vision, almost always successfully
blending stylish art-house sensibilities and visuals with mass
entertainment, bearing the biggest names and featuring the hallmarks of
a rich Mandarin language.
The incredibly strong story centers around three major characters set in the warring 1920s in China, with Ge You playing Bangde Ma, a man who had unscrupulously bought his position of governorship and is on his way to claim it, having done his sums and understanding the material wealth that comes with holding that position through partnering the rich and the exploitation of the weak. However the train he's travelling in with his wife (Carina Lau) gets hijacked by infamous bandit Pocky Zhang (Jiang Wen) and his band of loyal merry men, who decide to take on Bangde's identity as the incoming Governor of Goose Town, while keeping the real Bangde Ma by their side as a councilor for his political savvy. But standing in their way is the local godfather and real seat of power Wang (Chow Yun-Fat) and his gang, which obviously sets a showdown between the two camps.
And I'm not kidding you when I say there are parallels drawn here with our sunny little island, since the introductory shot of Goose Town made it seem like an island that Bangde Ma and Pocky Zhang had to cross into, before confronted with by a wily, scheming political incumbent determined to hold onto his turf and not yield it without a fight. Like politicians, they plot and counterplot against each other's schemes, with deep mistrust all round even when smiling at each other during a round table discussion. Those amongst the elites horde most of the wealth of the town, and it is not until Pocky Zhang had a change in heart and strategy of wealth distribution and moral justice did he find it within himself and his lean, mean team to inch toward power in his fight for the little man. Though of course it's pretty clear still who's being manipulated for someone's objective.
As a film, Let the Bullets Fly is sheer spectacle for its action sequences, lush cinematography, and comically awkward CG at times, with some scenes being deliberately and extremely over the top. But that's part of the fun, as the narrative is kept tight with nary a wasted scene, and what would be one of the best parts of the film is the rapid fire dialogue exchange between characters. Black humour is rampant as well to make this very close to a laugh a minute affair through its wickedness, though I have to admit at times things do get lost in translation, especially when required to read between the lines of what's said when the characters try to outdo one another, or in attempts to understand their opponents, through many twists and turns.
Stellar performances from the leads make this a must watch as well. Jiang Wen has this air of gravitas associated with his presence, and he makes for a believable bandit who found the moral courage to turn his life, and that of his followers, around to fight the good fight against Chow's Wang. Chow Yun Fat redeems himself from his really cringeworthy foray into Hollywood with dubious roles in films like Dragonball Evolution, and his performance here in dual roles as Wang and his body double, reminds us why Chow is top of the class when he gets his act together in the right charismatic role. Ge You himself is no pushover, although his character gets the least screen time. Still, when all three share the same frame or scene, the mood is nothing short of electrifying, as they banter and feed off one another's energy.
And Jiang Wen also assembled a credible ensemble support group with the likes of Carina Lau, Hu Jun in yet another cameo as a make pretend Pocky Zhang, Chen Kun as a cocky young upstart in Wang's camp, and even Feng Xiaogang making a cameo in the beginning of the film trying to suck up to Bangde Ma. You can label it a satire, or an action comedy, but one thing's for sure, this Chinese film showcases just what their industry is capable off in pulling something quirky, offbeat and yet entertaining for the masses. Jiang Wen continues to expand his filmography in a slow but assured pace, and hopefully we can get to see another one of his films soon. Highly recommended as one of the best this year, and I'm really tempted to get the DVD in order to watch this battle of wits all over again.
This movie is really funny and brutal at the same time. Which is a hard
thing to balance. Violence is "real" (with consequences for the
characters involved that is), but the humor still works. Two factors
play into that in my estimation: The script and the really good actors
playing in this.
Mixture works and the CGI effects are really good too. Then you also have some wonderful dialogue between the main characters that is so rich, the translation might not do it entire justice (watched it with subtitles on and was hard to follow from time to time). But it's apparent how much fun they had shooting this movie. If you like eastern movies, I do not need to convince you to watch this. But maybe this can be your entry into a whole new (fascinating) world for you ...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The opening of the movie proffers LI Shu-tong's sadly languid "Song of
farewell", the best known musical piece of the period in the
warlord-troubled period of China of the early 20th Century. The
transition to the farce that follows is a stroke of brilliance.
The main drawing card of the movie is of course three superstars in the Chinese language cinema today, JIANG Wen, CHOW Yun-fat and GE You in the order of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. This is actually the second time Jiang has fashioned a movie in this way, the first one being "Tian di ying xiong" (2003) in which he also took the role of The Good, while roles of The Bad and The Ugly were taken up, respectively, by Kiichi Nakai and WANG Xueqi (who back then had not yet attained today's lofty status in the movie world). The beauty in that one was ZHAO Wei.
As mentioned in my summary line, to the main structure of "The Good, the Bad and The Ugly" is added certain elements of the Kurosawa's classic Yojinbo (1961). But while therein, the hero (played by Toshiro Mifune) is the guy between two opposite camps, here in "Bullet" it's the clown, i.e. The Ugly.
I am not going to go into the plot which can be summarized as a convoluted game of power struggles between two rivalling gangs for control a small town. Exciting action and outlandish black humour make the movie thoroughly enjoyable. The highlight is of course the acting of the three superstars. One scene, in particular, must not be missed the first meeting between The Good and The Bad, with the Ugly as the balancing factor in the subtle confrontation. Just to witness how in this scene the three pull all plugs in their acting reservoir to outdo one another is worth the admission price.
"Pocky" Zhang is a notorious bandit who robs trains and any other soft
target. When a train robbery turns up no loot, a different prize is
sought as it does contain a con artist (Tang) who was on his way to
Goose Town to pose as their Governor for a while then make off with the
taxes. Zhang agrees to spare Tang in exchange for the role and together
they head to Goose Town, however once there they discover that the role
of Governor is secondary to that of Godfather a role held by Master
I came to this film having heard that I wouldn't "get it" because it was a Chinese film which was not for the international market. Whether this is the case or not I do not know, but perhaps regardless of nationality, the film only partially worked for me. The plot and the characters weren't an issue for me and I enjoyed the back and forward of the various twists and turns of the story. The action was not quite as good and those coming here for the action suggested by the title will almost certainly be disappointed since it doesn't deliver on that front as much. The comedy aspect is a strange mix and maybe this is the thing that I wouldn't "get" by being from Northern Ireland.
At times it is quite playful and witty but then at the same time it is pretty violent . In and of itself, I don't have a problem with this because it can work but in this case I didn't feel like it did as the violence was almost too jarring and too heavy or serious to really be able to be darkly funny in the way needed. The direction is a little bit excessive in the same way not making its different extremes really work together particularly well, but it does still have some things about it which I enjoyed and mostly the tone of the film is consistent. The winner for me was the performances from the lead actors because they sold their characters better than the material did. Chow overplays it perhaps but he is a good foil for the rather calmer playing from Wen Jiang (who I really liked here). Xiaogang Fen is fun too in support as Tang.
Although I am not Chinese, I did still quite enjoy this film even if I didn't think it totally worked. The comedy aspect is odd and the violence doesn't always work with it as it should, although the playful spirit of most of the film combines well with the delivery of Chow and Wen to make it better than it otherwise would have been.
This is a movie that I thought would have a simple story and a lot of
shoot em up. But it was actually the other way around. In fact this
movie sort of reminded me of Quentin Tarantino movies. And wouldn't be
shocked if Quentin got some ideas from this movie for "Django
Unchained". One thing I was disappointed with this movie is how it has
Yun-Fat Chow is shown holding a pistol in the back cover of the DVD for
this movie. And was hoping for a dual pistol wielding showdown with
Yun-Fat Chow and Jiang Wen but that never happens. In fact Jiang Wen is
the one that shoots the most in this movie. Chow Yun-Fat and Jiang Wen
is just excellent with the roles they are given and are charismatic
while also giving off strong impressions. Even is one is the sharp
shooting cool anti-hero guy and the other one is a bit obnoxious and
yet dominant bad guy. The plot is cleverly crafted although it might
have few plot-holes and don't make sense during few scenarios. It's
just a very small gripe because everything else is just entertaining to
watch. From the dialogue, the acting and the way Pocky Zhang(Jiang Wen)
and Huang(Chow Yun-Fat) try to beat each other with mind games and
strategy. Overall this is a well crafted movie and clever one as well.
It's a movie well worth checking out and I personally will check out
more past and future Jian Wen movies.
Although the movie is allegedly set during the Chinese civil war, the
first phase of the war between the Nationalists and Communists did not
start until 1927, and the movie appears to be set in a time before the
first phase began.
The underlying story is about a bandit (played by Wen Jiang) who disguises himself as a local "governor" (mayor of a town). His motive is acquiring wealth through fraud, or so one is lead to believe initially. Instead, the movie turns into a complex mind-game between the bandit, named Pocky Zhang, and a local war lord (Master Huang, played by Yun-Fat Chow). A struggle ensues, and the storyline turns on who will prevail. Prostitutes (with hearts of gold, of course -- something movies seem to love even though divorced from reality) also play a major role in the story.
The joy of the movie is watching the two protagonists (each served by loyal and capable side-kicks) try to one-up each other. There are plots within plots within plots. The film is also laced with farce and a few guest appearances by an excellent traditional Chinese drum band. All characters have traits that are both admirable and foolish.
Can you stay one step ahead of the protagonists as they scheme and counter-scheme? Good luck.
My one criticism is that the English language subtitles are small and pass by on the screen so fast that it is often hard to read them completely.
If you enjoy watching cleverness unfold, with the hero ultimately prevailing, and you do not mind struggling with the dialog, this is a cute movie. It is a much more sophisticated sojourn into Chinese culture and greed that the traditional kung-fu movie. It is likely that the script reflects more than a tad of Party influence since our hero, the bandit, ultimately turns out to have a heart of gold (no pun)and care only for "the people." Fortunately, this does not distract from the plot or the characters. Wen Jiang and Yun-Fat Chow are superb lead characters, as one would expect of actors of their quality.
The movie is long at 132 minutes, but you will never be bored. Even the special effects are exceedingly well done.
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