Okay, before you decide to go out and see this film you need to understand it is wonderful and very satisfying provided you like kung fu movies and are willing to see a parody, of sorts, of the genre. Unless you've seen a few maritial arts films and can suspend disbelief, you may just find the whole thing rather silly. Instead of an overly serious martial arts film, LEGEND OF THE RED DRAGON doesn't take itself at all seriously and this is its greatest strength. Despite the recent success of CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, I was not impressed by this film. It featured too many way over the top stunts and the plot was amazingly serious and artistic. This combination, for me, just didn't work, though I know the film made a fortune throughout the world. But here, because the plot and writing are so silly and it's all done tongue in cheek, you can more easily accept the ridiculous but spectacular stunts. Plus, time and time again, I found myself laughing out loud because of the screwy plot. While not quite as silly as Stephen Chow's KUNG FU HUSTLE, it was close and surpassed it in plot, excitement and grandeur.
So what makes the film so funny? Well, while I usually hate dubbed films, I've gotta admit the dubbing was hilarious and it left we wondering just how close this was to the original film? There were lots of anachronistic comments and the voices were sometimes really cartoon-like. Considering everything else, this actually worked. In addition, the idea of pairing Jet Li with an amazing child kung fu master was pretty funny because the child's talents were so ridiculously amazing and impossible. Additionally, while Li played his part very straight, so many of the supporting characters were again pretty cartoon-like--such as Grandma with her amazing ability to throw poison darts (you just have to see and hear her to understand) or the leader of the bad guy who drives a chrome death car even though the film appears to be set well before 1900.
The film is a wonderful combination of great technique, expert filming and silliness that will thrill lovers of kung fu movies. Unlike the movies of Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee, this Jet Li film involves far less punching and kicking--relying instead on the amazing use of weaponry and silly physics (not as bad as CROUCHING TIGER, but getting pretty close on occasion). It's a very enjoyable but not especially deep film.
By the way, the film is rated R, but I think it could easily been rated PG-13 as the violence wasn't that extreme and there was no nudity or excessive foul language.
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