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In the early 1600's, the Manchurians have taken over sovereignty of China and established the Ching Dynasty. While many nationalist revolts still brew within the martial artists' community, the newly set-up government immediately imposes a Martial Arts Ban, forbidding the practice of martial arts altogether in order to gain control and order. Wind Fire (Sun Hong-Lei), a surrendered military official from the previous dynasty, sees this as an opportunity to make a fortune for himself by helping to execute the new law. Greedy, cruel, and immoral, Wind Fire ravages the North-western China, and his next goal is to attack the final frontier, Martial Village. Fu Qingzhu, a retired executioner from the previous dynasty, feels the need to put a stop to this brutality and sets out to save Bowei Fortress. He brings Wu Yuanyin and Han Zhiban from the village with him to Mount Heaven to seek help from Master Shadow-Glow, a hermit who is a master of swords and leads a group of disciples of great ...Written by
A movie by an auteur for the amateurs behind Ashes Of Time, Hero or Crouching Tiger...
Wong Kar-Wai, Zhang Yimou and Ang Lee... PLEASE... oh please, watch this film and for Christ's sake learn finally something about wuxia pian because you never had not even a little idea what you were doing there!
Unfortunately after Once Upon a Time in China there were very few wuxia films in fact and most of them turned out to be very weak (Hero) or ridiculous, pretentious and contrived beyond belief (Ashes of Time), now Tsui Hark finally comes back as a very mature filmmaker and reputable king of the wuxia of the screen format who takes all his previous experiences and skills he gathered over the last years right into this film and let me tell you... he truly outdid himself here, both as a storyteller and action director, even to such an extent that today one would hardly even recommend his Once Upon a Time in China or The Blade over this genuine masterpiece. I dare to say that he's at the highest peak of his career here.
Some people are not excited about this film but it's quite obvious that most of them don't realize that this film actually goes against any genre conventions or film-making rules we went through before. It gives us a little story-telling and technical innovation that can easily get over the head of many average or too sophisticated and close-minded moviegoers.
I know the footage's been cut from 4+ hours to 2 1/2 hours, yes it might not be an original vision the director had in his mind but considering however that he had at least the final cut on this shorter version we can cool down because it's the second vision he gave to the film and let me tell you that it WORKS, yes, it really works... sure, it might not be as detailed as would be given by the longer footage but if we keep in mind that the sequel will compensate for and balance out all the development of the characters (that is otherwise sufficient enough in this film) some people can see this film only as the first act or the first chapter of the whole planned saga. I mean, with all this in mind one has to admit it's a brilliant accomplishment after all! This is easily one of the most truly challenging Wuxia films in years... it gives you more than enough to think, imagine and enough adrenaline for lots of complex action scenes and leaves you fully entertained. Maybe it's already useless saying what many others already said here but i must also remind you all that this is an instant classic many people (not all) have been waiting for.
Let's just hope many other filmmakers will once again learn from another "true" stunning masterpiece Mr.Tsui Hark has accomplished here. BRAVO!!
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