Let the Bullets Fly Reviews
Let the Bullets Fly is set in China during the warring 1920s, notorious bandit chief Zhang descends upon a remote provincial town posing as its new mayor, an identity that he had hijacked from Old Tang. Hell-bent on making a fast buck, Zhang soon meets his match in the tyrannical local gentry Huang as a deadly battle of wit ensues. I really enjoyed complexity in movies, especially when it's this much fun and enjoyable. I don't think I've ever seen another comedy with so many funny and smart characters. There fun, smart, brutal, and they add more fun to the movie with each character having there own personality. Now one thing I think audiences will be disappointed in is that there isn't much violence, but I don't they'll mind with the fun they'll have watching this.
The cast of this movie is well put together and they deliver great performances to get behind. Each actor felt so perfect and fit perfectly into there character and they got great comedic timing. My favorite of these performances is Yun-Fat Chow as he's pretty effective and fun in a comedic role. I will praise the few scenes of violence even though they're not long, what come afterward are always some smart humor. Now I don't know about other reviewers, but I just love the location where this was filmed. It's a beautiful country and I can't think of a better place they could have shot it.
Let The Bullets Fly is a smart complex comedy with tons of hilarious jokes and tons of fun. It's a comedy unlike anything you've seen before and it'll definitely will bring enjoyment for anyone looking for a laugh.
The film's script went through over thirty drafts before Jiang Wen was happy with it, and you can see it in the final cut: almost everything was done perfectly. With its two versions (one in Mandarin and one in Sichuanese), the film broke several box office records in Mainland China and Hong Kong, and has received critical acclaim, when it was released.
I enjoyed most of it (it had subtitles :-) ) and if you love to experience rollicking Chinese western directed with cinematic gumption, it's your turn!
The acting is pretty solid. Many people won't know who any of the main guys are outside of Chow Yun-Fat, but this harkens back to the days of Kung Fu Hustle and Stephen Chow. If you've ever seen that (I recommend it highly if you haven't), it has that same kind of feel; Silliness and absurdity with touches of great writing and dialogue.
It's stylish environmentally and touching emotionally in certain moments, but it always ends up making you laugh when the scene finishes. Like I said earlier though, my main gripes that knock this down to the score I gave it have to deal with the terrible CGI and confusing journey to get to the conclusion. I'm a big fan of foreign action/comedy films and this one did its job of keeping me interested through the entire 2 hour run time.
Running a surprisingly long 132 minutes, after a train plundering/assassination prologue seemingly copied directly from another interesting asian genre-mashup; The Good, The Bad, and The Weird, the film gains a general fast pace, which it keeps for the great majority of the time. Once the rivalry between the outlaws and Master Huang is established, the film largely becomes a variety of schemes by one party to destroy the other to varying degrees of success. Using extensive runtime to his advantage, Jiang is able to examine this physical and psychological warfare in a comedic and dramatic light, and more than often mixes the two polars together for scenes that simultaneously convey humanistic emotion, and force the audience to become squeamishly uncomfortable as to the hilarity taking place in the seemingly brutal moment. An example of this compelling, yet slightly off putting mixture of comedy and drama can be found in the character of Huang's hired impersonator (Wu Jiang). Early in the film, this character is captured by the bandits as a hostage, but he never stops his dead-on impersonation of his employer, even when his life is on the line during what could easily be considered a torture sequence. It's an absurd scene, but it's also grim as well: We, as an audience, are essentially laughing at the misery of a relatively innocent man. Pulling off a sequence such as this gives extreme credit to the actor, Wu Jiang, and the director.
When blending together so many separate genres at one time, problems regarding tonal shifts would seem to almost be a mandatory dilemma, but one that still must be dealt with. Far too frequently, Wen Jiang shifts the tone to fit whatever situation is taking place; which means every three or so scenes, a jarring change occurs. It almost comes off that Jiang is not creating one whole movie, but rather multiple shorter scenes from separate movies, with each film focused on one genre rather than many. While combining both dramatic and comedic situations can operate successfully because of the acting and direction, no matter the context, frequent drastic alterations in tone cannot, or at least in the great majority of the time, succeed.
Despite problems in terms of changing tone, Jiang's ambitious genre mashup still largely works due to its fine performances, and Jiang's abilities as a director. It's impossible to describe as one individual niche of cinema, which proves how well the film excels at balancing its multiple genres at once. I'd recommend the film as a dark comedy, a foreign blockbuster, or a insightful western with a strong scenery change, but since it doesn't fit the mold to any of these, I'll just have to recommend the film in general. This is a cinematic experience that couldn't be declared perfect, but is certainly unlike anything you'll see this year. A true hidden gem.
I fell asleep twice and was itching for the credits all throughout.
Story? A bandit comes to a small town, scared shitless of its local goons and impersonates as its mayor. Ruckus results.
Rating - 1 Star
Some of the comedy is lost on me I'm sure, as sometimes it's a language thing so it can get lost in translation. There's also the speed of the dialogue. I can tell in certain scenes by the quick and seemingly snappy dialogue that there's some comedy coming through. During those scenes at best I can only sense the comedic moment and know that it's there somehow, but unfortunately not really get the humor. When I did "get it", it was funny and the overall film with it's stylistic action scenes is very entertaining.
In a small 1920's Chinese town, they have never seen their mayor. When a local official, traveling with the mayor, is approached by bandits and the mayor is killed in the process, he reluctantly agrees to infiltrate the town, act as the mayor, and steal their money. Once in the town, the fake mayor may change his allegiance, and work with the town to overthrow the bandits.
"I never intended to profit from the poor."
"Then who would you profit from? Do you want to make money or stand tall?"
"I want to make money...while standing tall."
Wen Jiang, director of In the Heat of the Sun, Devils on the Doorstep, The Sun Also Rises, and Gone with the Bullets, delivers Let the Bullets Fly. The storyline for this picture is entertaining, with some solid action, and doesn't take itself too serious. The script is very clever and the actors play their roles well. The cast includes Chow Yun-Fat, Kun Chen, You Ge, Wen Jiang, and Carina Lau.
"Where there are gun shots, there is death. Where there is death, there is weeping. When people are weeping, they tell the truth."
I grabbed this off Netflix because I thought it was strange seeing Chow Yun-fat in a western martial arts movie. It was just okay but some random acts of violence were entertaining and I thought the action scenes were clever. A few sequences were corny, but not unexpected. This film is worth a viewing and an entertaining addition to the genre.
"Did we miss?"
Grade: C+/B- (6.5)