As the trend in 3D films continues to rise in the states, a number of different directors are giving it a shot themselves. Tsui Hark decided to create Flying Swords of Dragon Gate and make it a 3D experience, but wanted to keep other aspects grounded. Fans delighted when they heard that Jet would be joining the cast, paring him up with the director for the first time in almost 10 years. Would the combination of Li and Hark benefit from the enhanced technology, or was it simply too ambitious of a project?
The characters in Flying Swords of Dragon Gate cover a very wide spectrum. Most of the main characters have their own unique quirks and styles, making it very easy to tell them apart. Some of these characters stand out more than others, but there is enough banter between the characters to get a basic sense of their personalities. Sadly, other characters have almost no development and one simply takes an action at the end of the film that left me scratching my head. While you get to know the character’s personalities, don’t expect to know anything else about them. Their pasts are ignored and motivations are shrouded, which is a shame, to be honest.
The story, on the other hand, is an absolute mess. Part of this has to do with character development and understanding motives, while another has to do with the how complicated the plot becomes. First off, it’s difficult to tell if this is a sequel, remake, or re-imagining of Dragon Gate Inn. There are references to the film, making me think it’s a sequel, but then other parts seem to be re-used concepts from Hark’s remake. There were times I though certain characters were re-cast, only to figure out they were different people entirely. In truth, the plot gets so confusing that I found myself losing interest by the end of it all. I think a more streamlined story would have been better for this film; it was just too much information to take in at once.
Expect a lot of this….a lot of it
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate has everything you’d expect from a 3D film. Blades shatter, chains break, clothes tear, and daggers are thrown….a lot. There are 2 ways to take in this type of action: it’s either the director’s creative choice or it was simply done for 3D. Even if I give the film the benefit of the doubt (and that’s a big IF) the use of CG for the fights is just bad. There are so many flashy things going on that it really doesn’t feel like any of the fights are worthwhile. I’ve never seen so many swords break in my life, and the finale was just a waste of time for me. Much more could have been done with the talent at hand, and the most entertaining parts were when no special effects were involved.
Own it, Watch it, or Skip it?
Oh Jet, where did you go?
I have no problem with directors wanting to use 3D. However, if it becomes so prevalent that the audience can tell which sections were created for it, it’s not worth the time. More work should have gone into the story and giving emotion to the settings instead of just creating over-the-top sequences. Oh, and for all you Jet Li fans out there, he’s hardly in this movie. If you’re a Tsui Hark fan, you may get some enjoyment out of this, but everybody else should just stay away from this movie. It’s simply not worth it.