Flyign Swords of Dragon Gate is a remake of the original 1966 classic Dragon Gate Inn starring Jet Li. This particular take on the film expands and creates a larger, more visually stunning universe.
The nation is being policed by the East and West Bureas whilst the Emperor’s eunuch’s seem have attained a lot of power and control. With all of the corruption a man named Zhao (played by Jet Li) has been travelling with a small group and systemically killing the Eunuchs in order to stop the foul direction the country seems to be heading in – starting off with one particular Eunuch played by Gordon Liu!
The function of the West bureau seems a little blurry as the Emperor’s chief concubine only wants them to prevent the Emperor from impregnating anyone but her. Of course the head of the Bureau has found 4 pregnancies and executed 3 of the mothers, with the fourth having escaped. It is then ordered that she be hunted down and killed.
When she is finally tracked down, a masked warrior claiming to be Zhao rescues her, while the real Zhao watches. The woman who is pretending to be Zhao takes her to the Dragon gate, meanwhile Zhou and his men (unknown to the woman) fight off the men to help them get away.
As a massive sandstorm approaches Dragon Gate, everyone is drawn to the Dragon Gate Inn, a dark and violence filled place with that offers accommodation. With everyone piled into one building, and some groups hiding, small subplots develop as different groups try to deceive one another and track down the Zhao, the woman and anyone else who is an enemy. Naturally things get tense all the while the massive sandstorm approaches the crowded building.
Taking ‘The Dragon Gate Inn’ to the next level…
So this film expands on the universe, visual style and scale of the original. The story is more of a different take on the original, and adds something else to the story by including an expanded world outside the Inn – by way of a hidden Palace, covered by the sand.
This adds a larger scale backdrop to the movie as the sandstorm seems to be predicted by old carvings and is due to uncover the palace and it’s treasure in time. Naturally there are some groups going after the treasure.
On top of that the look of the film is epic, with CGI backgrounds and larger than life sets being computer generated to take this movie from a closed in sets of the Inn, to a massive scale with even the sandstorm itself being a sight to behold. I’m a bit on the fence as to how much good this CGI does the film, but it does look spectacular and like a piece of art.
The only problem with this heavy influence of CGI is the action….
The Action & Martial Arts
Naturally when you have huge amounts of CGI in the background, you’re going to need some more to help blend the action in the foreground with what’s been shown behind, and this movie takes the action to a new gravity defying level.
I personally don’t think that’s a good thing.
The CGI has taken over a little bit as this is one of those movies where our heroes’ fly and perform all sorts of ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon‘ style fights only it doesn’t look as good as the wire work – and I can’t stand overuse of wire work! (personally)
While it’s a popluar and artistic performance in it’s own right, I’m personally not a fan, and having it muddied up with some (pretty fake looking) CGI makes it even worse. But that all depends, it may be your cup of tea, it just isn’t mine!
But the movie is more about tensions and plot and carries just enough action to class it as an action film, with a few nice bits and pieces of good work with real actors, but more of the action seems spoilt by CGI.
It’s not an overly bad movie but it’s not good, I won’t be watching it again. If you like the artistic movies like Crouching Tiger only with more CGI, you may enjoy it. I’m guessing most people who read my reviews won’t.
On Blu Ray –
Region A (US & Canada)
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate [Blu-ray]
Region B (UK, Australia, New Zealand, Europe etc)
The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate [DVD]
Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate