Flying Swords of Dragon Gate 3D 龍門飛甲 (2011) – Hong Kong/China

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Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is exactly how to make use of 3D technology. Apart from James Cameron’s Avatar, the use of 3D has been mostly disappointing. Innovative director Tsui Harks does it again and exceeds all expectations in delivering not only a great movie, but uses 3D to maximum effect. In a reunion of sorts, Jet Li teams up with Tsui Hark for the first time since the Once Upon a Time in China days. After the staggeringly excellent Detective Dee’s last year, Hark continues his great form by bringing the audience into his imaginary world with 3 times the realism and some stunning special effects. Every inch of the budget seems to be perfectly used and the action direction is top class. The use of daggers, flying swords and martial arts display are all perfectly aided by the 3D effects. It is rare that a remake/re-imagination of an all time classic New Dragon Gate (1991) can be out-dux, but Hark achieves the impossible by delivering the most impressive and creative Hong Kong movie of the year. Although Jet Li seems wasted in a role that is far too limited for both his acting and martial arts abilities, Zhou Xun impresses in a role that requires little, but crucial to the movie. Chen Kun once again impresses in a duo role and Taiwanese Kwai Lun-mei adds some flair and style. However, if there is one big flaw in the film, it is the lack of chemistry between Li and Zhou. Then again, it is probably truism by now that Li rarely strikes up chemistry with co-stars and with Rosamund Kwan (Once Upon a Time in China series) out of the game, it is hard to see which actress can bring down his romantic defenses.

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Still, Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is more than a stellar effort and qualifies as true Asian Blockbuster of the year. It is the kind of movie that will bring the people back to the cinemas. All in all, it is probably an understatement to call Tsui Hark a genius, but just when all his Hollywood count parts fails to understand 3D technology, Hark steps up and above his peers and deliver a sucker punch of a movie. Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is not just a good movie, but it is a great movie on all levels. It is what you call a unique movie experience that brings in the world of Wuxia to the maximum effect. I am proud of Tsui Hark’s achievements and after watching Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, he too should be proud of himself. Simply the film to beat in 2011…

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Neo rates it 9.5/10

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