One of my favourite directors, Hark Tsui, after his more recent successes (Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame) has decided to remake Dragon Gate Inn or more appropriately re-imagine it. Hark shot the film in 3D and the film has plenty of unnecessary CGI to go along with a the 3D shots.
Jet Li stars as Zhou Huai’an a rebel swordsman who, along with a couple of other fighters have been taking on the Emperor’s evil eunuchs. The eunuchs have formed two divisions, the West Bureau and the East Bureau. While Li and his group have been killing off and terrorizing the East Bureau, the West Bureau has been working for the Emperor’s Concubine ensuring that no other girl gets pregnant other than her. And if they do they don’t get to live to see the birth of their child. However a pregnant girl manages to escape from the West Bureau and the evil eunuch leader Yu Huatian (Chen Kun) and his men are in hot pursuit of her. The pregnant girl is rescued by Jet Li’s ex-lover Ling Yanqiu (Zhou Xun) who also used to run an outpost bar / hotel called Dragon Gate Inn. Near the inn is a buried city that reportedly has some lost gold in it. A sandstorm is about to hit the area and several bandits, the evil villains and the heroes have all taken refuge at the inn leading to a big CGI 3D sandstorm super fight.
Hark is a master of making films like this. From his Once Upon a Time in China series, The Swordsman to the Legend of Zu, just to name a few, Hark has been making wire-fu or wuxia films forever it seems. Here he tries to make a big Hollywood budget film, it’s beautifully shot and I’m sure the 3D looks fine but the problem is that he only has a budget of $30 million and Jet Li cost $12 million to star in the film. As a result the CGI is less than spectacular. The film might be fun to watch if I wasn’t wincing ever time Jet Li becomes a cartoon character when he kicks somebody. The film also has plenty of things flying at the screen. Trees, people, rope, swords, blades of all kinds, if you can think of it, it flies at the screen in this film.
Well maybe Hark’s next film will be the masterpiece kung fu epic that he keeps trying for.