by Dave Roberts
Finally released with official english subtitles is Donnie Yen in Dragon!
I’m a relatively unskilled practitioner of Wing Tzun and watching Donnie Yen in action is one of the most satisfying things I can do with my time. So I suggest if you have even the smallest interest in martial arts films that you get your hands on this one, though if you are a fan of just fights this one is also very artsy in that chinese cinema kinda way. But I love it!
Set in the early part of the twentieth century in early republican china Liu Jinxi (Yen) is living with his wife and two sons. On a day when Liu Jinxi is shopping for his bits in a grocers two very naughty men burst in and try and rob the place. Despite being a very unskilled martial artist he attempts to apprehend the two men ultimately killing them both.
A man who plays a meek chinese version of a noir private eye after analysing the evidence thinks that Liu Jinxi was either very very lucky or, more likely, had managed to beat these people by being very subtle with his martial arts. Now the film stars Donnie Yen, so it’s pretty clear to anyone who has ever seen him before that he is actually a fantastic martial artist and is keeping it secret for some reason. It turns out that reason is he was part of an extremely violent gang known as the 72 Demons. They brutally murdered a butchers family and probably undercooked the burgers they probably stole. And I’m sure one of them raped a cow carcass. With a goat penis. And a pickled egg.
So eventually the police man guy, after some personal acupuncture decides to try and trick him in many ways, like sticking a sword in him, and asking him if he ever met Bruce Lee, or if he owns any nunchuku and are the teenage mutant ninja turtles really ninja. None of this phases him, and eventually his thorough investigations cause the 72 Demons to attack the village burning it to the ground and ultimately ends in Liu Jinxi losing an arm, followed by a huge one armed fight. Quite brilliant.
I’m not sure if any of you have ever seen the one-armed swordsman film collection but the leader of the 72 Demons was prevalent in it and some people thought it was to be a remake of the original, because of the this the scene where the arm was lobbed off was added in. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the american directors paid as much attention to what the fans wanted. The script writers for Dexter wouldn’t be on my hitlist if they had just been on reddit a few times for FUCK SAKE. Though thats a rant for a different time. God help them when I review season 8. Anyway back to China.
The fighting in it is ludicrously well choreographed, every single movement seems to have a purpose, no longer are martial arts films about people throwing their limbs with a whip-crack sound just to demonstrate hand to hand violence, but each fight is pieced together almost like a sub plot to carry the film along.
Anyway the film is great as a film, but it is possible that due to it’s subtitles, the fact that it’s a US cut that is shorter than the original and that it is all in all still a martial arts film. I enjoyed it though, but just like anal sex if you don’t love it, you’ll probably hate it and call the police. Or maybe just film it then rage out and murder a North Korean Orchestra. Some people react differently.
For “the best things you’ve never heard of” – Check out Dave Roberts ‘Second Tier’.