Missing those foreign flicks! My boyfriend and I got into the Donnie Yen mood and we kind of just shelved this after I bought it in Toronto. What better time to watch it, right? Donnie Yen is always fun to watch!
Director: Peter Chan
Liu Jinxi (Donnie Yen) is a married man who lives in a small village and works for the paper making companies there with his wife and two sons. When two escaped convicted criminals arrive in town and threaten the shopkeeper, miraculously Jinxi, in self-defense managed to single-handedly take them down. This leads the investigator Xu Bai-jiu (Takeshi Kaneshiro) to suspect that Jinxi is more than he seems, especially that he is hiding extremely well-controlled martial arts that has only been seen in 3 other escaped criminal cases in the past. Afterwards, he continues to follow and observe Jinxi’s every move, this not only causes Jinxi’s wife, Ah Yu (Wei Tang) to wonder about her husband’s mysterious past but also peaks the interest of a deadly criminal gathering in the area lead by a very powerful Master (Yu Wang) who wants to get back his most promising member, Tang Long.
Donnie Yen has quickly risen to be one of my favorite action stars in Hong Kong. His films usually revolve around some fantastic action sequences and in most, he also does the action directing. Dragon is a very well-made action flick. Its not about a famous person in the past like his famous Ip Man biopics. However, in this one, we give him some emotional burden as a man thats trying to turn good. If you have watched some of Peter Chan’s movies, you will also know that this has his signature all over it. That is a very good thing. There is enough foreshadowing in it so that you can actually know or derive what the story will turn out to be, but there is always some that surprises the audience. Plus, they filmed in a really nice area…in mainland China is my guess…exactly where, I’d have to research but some scenes are crazy beautiful!
Lots of people know that I like Donnie Yen, but I have been a long-time fan of Takeshi Kaneshiro. This actor has done some pretty good movies and usually or mostly big productions. He’s been part of a lot of the ones thats hit international, which is also why his name is fallen off my radar for a bit. The last movie I saw of his is 2005’s Perhaps Love also directed by Peter Chan. This guy even was the inspiration of the character in Onimusha, a Playstation 2 game ;). Yeah, I’m a nerd, I admit it! (But you all knew that already) He’s serious and a little weird as the character of Xu Bai Jiu but he does it in a such a captivating way. It made me want to focus to understand what is going through his mind, whether there was something more to what he was thinking.
Our group of criminal gang who are all kick-ass martial artists brings in the whole action element to another level. It does happen rather later as the final sequence as the movie climax. Yu Wang was quite the big star back in the days of Shaw Brothers productions. I had just talked about the SB movies the other day when reading a post by Forgotten Films on a review on one of the martial arts movies which didn’t star Yu Wang (its an awesome post and you can check it out HERE). This guy is pretty much the “bad guy”. But I’m still a bit confused as to whether he is considered that. He just gets hardcore and extreme in his ways, and maybe slightly on the crazy. However, he is a scary man. I have to admit to that so very effective in this role.
Now, that is a scary look. Kara Hui has more of a cameo in this film BUT, she is also one of my most favorite actresses in the business. Mostly because I’ve grown to love her constantly in Hong Kong TV series in more ancient times doing some sort of martial arts or whatnot. She’s always plays the good person roles. She sides with the righteous side. This one she went all out and was totally bad! She was like a killing machine!
This is a pretty amazing movie. Its not just a martial arts/action movie but its also a bit of a mystery as it unravels before the eyes of Takeshi Kaneshiro’s character, and also a drama. It is these three elements combined that make this into a really intriguing story that brings out the character development and hidden back story. It also ties in a little bit of educational material on acupressure points and acupuncture and the essence of how with the advance knowledge of this, it can be a deadly weapon and how it applies to little CSI a la ancient China style ;). That stuff always amuses me since I almost wanted to study it as a career! I’d totally recommend it! Strong performances all around and worth your time!
Do you like Donnie Yen movies? Which one is your favorite? Have you heard of Takeshi Kaneshiro before?