Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is a big-budget CGI version of these films, involving much higher stakes and grander sets than the first two. In this version, a pregnant maid in the Imperial Palace is being hunted by the secret service of the palace due to the small chance she might be carrying the Emperor's child.
|Flying Swords of Dragon Gate doesn't bother with realism. At one point it has a fight in this cyclone. This is a selling point to me rather than a negative.|
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is a fun rip-roaring adventure that has a surprising number of twists and an excellent balance of action sequences with the comedy. Some of the CGI effects are a bit obvious, especially the scenes which were supposed to be filmed in 3D. Still, overall, they're very impressive and mixed with positively gorgeous sets.
Having seen New Dragon Inn, I must say that everyone does an excellent job but it doesn't have quite the same punch. I may be biased in this assessment, however, due to my inexhaustible love of Maggie Cheung. It's a pity Donnie Yen couldn't have been a part of this as well, given his villainous turn in New Dragon Inn was quite impressive.
In fact, thinking about it, I don't mind the recasting but it seems strange that Jet Li (born 1963) is cast as the hero of New Dragon Inn but they recast the role of the innkeeper despite the fact Maggie Cheung is an appropriate age (born 1964) for her romance arc. It took me awhile to realize they were supposed to be the same character. I also missed the original performance's sauciness.
The first half of the movie is the most enjoyable and could have really sustained the entire film without the addition of the needless treasure hunt plot. There's also a rather forgettable "identical strangers" subplot which had some funny moments but ultimately lead nowhere.
|If nothing else, everyone LOOKS cool.|
Sometimes, the spectacle gets in the way of the movie's better parts. As mentioned, the addition of a city hidden underneath a sandstorm containing a lost treasure isn't so much an homage to Sahara as flat-out copying. Likewise, there's one too many cool and interesting characters for a movie which only has so much run-time to get to know them all. A smoother script and trimmed cast would have done this movie wonders, in my humble opinion.
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is a great buy for any fan of wuxia films or martial arts epics in general. It's not the best example of its genre but it's a piece both Westerners and Easterners can enjoy. It's not a perfect movie but well worth the price of a DVD. Really, my only complaint about the film is the DVD doesn't allow me to skip past its mammoth number of previews every time I want to watch the film.