China is plunged into strife as feuding warlords try to expand their power by warring over neighboring lands. Fuelled by his success on the battlefield, young and arrogant Hao Jie sneers at... See full summary »
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China is plunged into strife as feuding warlords try to expand their power by warring over neighboring lands. Fuelled by his success on the battlefield, young and arrogant Hao Jie sneers at Shaolin's masters after killing a rival warlord on their temple grounds. But the glory comes before a fall. His own family is wiped out in an unexpected turn of events and Hao is forced to take refuge with the monks. As the civil unrest spreads and the people suffer, Hao and the Shaolin masters are forced to take a fiery stand against the evil warlords. They launch a daring plan of rescue and escape. Written by
In the mid-30s China has broken up into warring factions of warlords attempting to carve out power and influence between themselves. Amongst them Hou Chieh (Andy Lau), powerful and remorseless, aiming to achieve domination even at the expense of his blood brothers death. He disregards not only loyalties for his quest for power, but also tradition - openly ridiculing the Shaolin Temple in the opening sequence of the movie. His only deeper affection is directed towards his wife (Bingbing Fan) and sole child. However, such immorality rarely remains unpunished, as karma is a dog and is intent on biting back, when his second in command Tsao Man (Nicholas Tse) betrays Hou, thus causing the death of his daughter. Initially conquered by anger Hou plans revenge, but soon finds sanctuary in the Shaolin Temple, finding a friend and comfort in the local cook Wudao (Jackie Chan). Slowly he accepts his fate and finds peace within himself. Tsao Man however does not intend to leave his former comrade of arms alive...
Another blockbuster extravaganza from China with great settings, beautiful cinematography and some well researched, brilliantly crafted period reconstruction. However under Benny Chan's direction, visibly placing style and swashbuckling melodrama over substance, even the great Andy Lau delivers a sobbing and disappointing performance. Only Jackie Chan seems somewhat comfortable in his goofish guise, as the somewhat aloof super-cook. This stylistic over-reliance on soapish dramaturgy lacks the same required restraint showed by directors such as Ang Lee, Xiaogang Feng or even John Woo, thus making the effort at times a cringe-worthy lesson in bad filmmaking. The best moments come during fight sequences, but even here a severe overuse of slow-motion in order to 'imbue' the tragedy or drama just tingles all the wrong receptors. Instead of dramatic the multitude of such scenes make the movie a yawn-inducing watch, which could obviously use drastic editing to cut down run time with no harm to story or substance.
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