Jul 28, 2006|
When it comes to action, “Dragon Tiger Gate” delivers. There are plenty of riveting sequences involving fists of fury, nunchuck attacks, spectacular kicks, pulsating music and enough camera moves to make a cinematographer cry for mercy. So far so good.
The problem with this film is when there aren’t any fights. There are countless scenes where Yen, as Dragon, looks forlornly out across Victoria Harbour. Scenes between Tiger Wong (Nicolas Tse) and Turbo Shek (Shawn Yue) often consist of exchanges like, “I can teach you nunchaku.” “Great.” Then they fight. Meanwhile, they all look like they’ve come straight from a Too-Much-Man-Hair convention. At one point, the dark, evil, long-limbed beauty Lousha (Li Xiao Ran) says to Dragon, “Have you ever done it in a pool?” That’s before Dragon pulverizes her, but not the way you may want to imagine it, if you catch my drift.
The film is based on the comic book where the three above-mentioned male characters are a part of the martial arts academy, the Dragon Tiger Gate. They were adopted as children by the kung fu master Huang Jianglong. When Tiger Wong unwittingly takes what’s known as the Louasha Death Plaque during a dinner when he sees some diners being bullied, it sets in motion a serious war with Shibumi, the leader of the Louasha Gate, which is a crime organization of some sort (read triads). The bottom line is that the Death Plaque is in the wrong hands and there’s going to be some serious whoop-ass all around as a result. Meanwhile Dong Jie is running up a steep temple picking up beads to please someone named Master Qi, who has mysterious powers that are activated only when special tasks are performed. Too bad he didn’t meet up with Lousha in the pool.
The best whoop-ass comes in the appearance of the Black Pagoda, who looks like he just stepped out of a fight between the World Wrestling Entertainment fighters and the metal group Slipknot. “Dragon Tiger Gate’s kung fu sucks,” he declares. So everybody really rumbles, especially Donnie Yen, who’s got this rumbling thing down pat. Then you leave, thinking, "Wow, 14-year-olds are really going to love this one."
Best Bit: Donnie Yen taking on all comers in a hallway.