Review this movie
Apr 18, 2013Peter Ho-Sun Chan directs the intriguing, entertaining martial arts film "Dragon," by utilizing his art house sensibilities. With a narrative as intense as the set pieces, it is an intriguing thriller about two men seeking redemption from their past. Partnered with the narrative are strong performances, intense action sequences, and beautiful cinematography.
The story takes place in China in the year of 1917. A man named Liu Jinxi (Yen) resides in Liu Village with his wife Yu (Tang Wei) and their two sons. One day, two men try to rob the local store, which Liu just happens to be present. The two criminals end up dead, and Liu is the only one that walks away. The unusual event catches the eye of Xu Baijiu (Takeshi Kaneshiro), a detective who is convinced Liu isn't the man he says he is. Once Xu has confirmed there is more to Liu than meets the eye, the psychological conflict between the two men begins. Both actors, Yen and Kaneshiro are fantastic in their roles, with fine
character development enhancing their stellar performances.
Liu is a complex character, determined to live an ordinary life, but evidently hiding something terrible. The opening scene depicts him dining with his family in a tranquil home, and it is so genuine a moment that his sincere desire for reform cannot initially be doubted. However, as word of his whereabouts spreads, Liu's resolve is sternly tested, and he is forced to directly confront the demons of his past.
The first fight scene is entertaining in itself, then magnified when attack is meticulously reconstructed in Detective Baijiu's mind. The action is replayed, with an added focus on the crucial moments. The method of physiology in which Detective Baijiu analyzes the crime scene and attack is unique and captivating. Director Chan uses a range of visual effects, particularly to add precise detail to the development of internal wounds, a technique that remains effective throughout the film.
The last 20 minutes of "Dragon" take you completely by surprise. The conclusion of the last fight will make or break your opinion of the film. Nevertheless, "Dragon" delivers swift kicks and a barrage of bone crunching punches to the standard expectations of a remake. "Dragon" is a stunning display of martial arts action, mesmerizing detective work, and engaging performances.… Collapse
It's never dull though, and the familiar characters and stock motivations are convincingly put across. And there's always Xu, who's turned to acupuncture to suppress his empathy, as you wait for the inevitable moment when suppressing it won't be enough.
As a whole, it does not quite work, especially at the end, when Mr. Chan tries for a Shakespearean climax of filial rebellion and paternal rage. But at its less grandiose moments, the combination of expressive acting and kinetic action pays off in ways that are likely to satisfy both novices and adepts in martial-arts fandom.