Raymond Lee teams up with Tsui Hark and Siu-Tung Ching to breathe new life into the 1967 film, Dragon Gate Inn. The film stars Donnie Yen, Maggie Cheung, Brigitte Linn, and Tony Leung Ka-fai, ensuring that the action would be both solid and entertaining. Don’t forget that Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is also a remake/sequel to this film, resulting in a lot of attention going back to this version. Does the film have enough going for it that audiences of this generation will appreciate it as well?
The story of New Dragon Gate Inn isn’t too special. Most of the plot takes place in one location, which is the inn itself. This makes all of the character development necessary for the story to progress. Some of the characters react to situations in strange ways, however, making you question the plot that is going on and how well it was constructed before filming began.
Even though the characters may not be 100% believable, I found myself caring about what happened to them during the course of the film. The bond between Brigitte Linn and Tony Leung Ka-Fai was subtle and nice, while Maggie Cheung went from adorable to questionable too many times for me. That being said, the characters were strong enough to get the story going, I just know it could have been better if more was put into it.
The reason why people want to see the New Dragon Gate Inn is for the action, and it satisfies…for the most part. I still have to stretch my brain sometimes to follow the action, and some cuts can get confusing because they are just too fast. Given these small gripes, a lot of the action is simply stunning and the choreography is very creative. The only thing that really left me wanting more was the final fight. I could have done without that, to be honest. Also, the violence seems to turn up for no reason near the end, which I’m fine with, but it just is a little jarring until you adjust to it.
Own it, Watch it, or Skip it?
Donnie is in this movie, but don’t expect to see him much
I think that I’m able to appreciate Wuxia films more now, and I can see why so many like New Dragon Gate Inn. The action is very good and the characters are developed enough to keep people from getting bored. If the ending had been better (or different) I could suggest owning it without a second thought. Don’t let these little speed bumps ruin your experience with the film, though, it’s certainly worth a watch.
Note: It looks like the HK version is out of print, we might have to wait til the remake comes out.