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Dragon Reviews

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Cynthia S

Super Reviewer

September 16, 2011
This was a beautifully shot movie, with a refreshing plot and character development that showed why Donnie Yen is such a great actor. He is among one of the very few actors who first broke into their careers due to their martial arts, but had developed his acting skills along the way. Good movie. Great action. Really good (if not slightly cliché) storyline. I enjoyed this very much...

Super Reviewer

August 31, 2011
Not a bad action-drama with Donnie Yen and Takeshi Kaneshiro as what I thought the Chinese epic film is a version of The History of Violence.
As the enigmatic paper-maker in a small idyllic town with the unassuming name Liu Jinxi, Yen has finally delivered a performance which equals that of Ip Man, one that showcases his best as a dramatic actor and as a martial artist.
Aubrey Lam's story raises a number of moral dilemmas, in particular whether a man can truly start anew without having to atone for his past sins, and whether there is a place for humanity in a world governed by laws and regulations. This is at the very heart of the complex intertwining relationship between Liu and Xu (played by Kaneshiro), and a fascinating one which director Peter Chan explores with panache. There is no hero or villain between the two rather, both are simply pushed up against each other by their past and the circumstance by which they had made their mutual acquaintance.

Super Reviewer

August 4, 2011
Wu Xia, from director Peter Chan, is part action and part mystery. Does it work well together? Indeed.Running roughly around 110 minutes, Wu Xia successfully puts much needed emphasis on story. The pacing isn't exactly snappy, and with little in the way of martial arts in the first 2/3rds of the film, Wu Xia flourishes on the mystery behind one of its title characters.The action, while limited in the early going and maybe even in the latter portions, contain excellent choreography thanks to the brilliant mind of Donnie Yen. The resulting martial arts fights are quickly paced and visually pleasing, leaving the want for more.Takeshi Kaneshiro takes charge when it comes to the acting, as he should when Donnie isn't displaying his martial arts skills. Wei Tang ends up as a lovely innocent house-wife, while Kara Hui is amusing with her double swords.Wu Xia does have the potential to be an all out martial arts action adventure, but instead elects to become a more well-rounded picture. In this instance it works out nicely.

Super Reviewer

July 26, 2012
I wasn't expecting to much going into this since the last Donnie Yen movie I saw, Flash Point, left allot to be desired. Wu Xia does provide good violence like Yen previous efforts, but a bigger focus on story allows Yen to showcase his dramatic side.

Wu Xia follows Tang Long (Yen), a sinful martial arts expert who wants to start a new tranquil life, only to be hunted by a determined detective and his former master. The plot relies heavily on the detective to develops two characters. This makes Tang Long, who's our main character, not interesting to follow. We never really get to learn much from Tang Long himself, it's always someone else telling us something new about him. It does on other hand get everything else right. The detective character is interesting to follow since both him and the audiences are completely unsure about Yen character. It feature some great scenes and dialogue between Tang Long and the detective. Even though Tang Long wasn't as interesting to follow, he did have more as stake and seeing how he dealt with his demons is exciting to see unfold. It does go into dark territory which benefits in making the more important dramatic scenes more powerful. Despite a not so interesting leading character, it does get other elements down correctly to make a brilliant drama.

Donnie Yen has never impressed with his acting, but that changed after seeing this and I do think even without violence he's great to watch. Though the script isn't the only thing that worked against him. While he did do a good job showcasing his dramatic side, he's very limited to the range of emotions he can give making it bland at times. Although there's little action here, the few set action pieces are done really well. Takeshi Kaneshiro was perfect and very believable as the detective. It's truly a mystery why he wasn't the star. Tang Wei who played Yen wife was good and even she outdid Yen in the acting department. Though the second best actor has to be Yu Wang, despite not having much screen he's very effective. It makes me wonder why the filmmakers didn't switch Yen and Wang roles.

Wu Xia is a powerful drama that overcome its uninteresting leading character and actor to deliver both a gritty and intelligent drama. Fans of Yen might be disappointed by the lack of action, but that shouldn't take anything away from this great movie.
April 18, 2013
Peter Ho-Sun Chan directs the intriguing, entertaining martial arts film "Dragon," by utilizing his art house sensibilities. With a narrative as intense as the set pieces, it is an intriguing thriller about two men seeking redemption from their past. Partnered with the narrative are strong performances, intense action sequences, and beautiful cinematography.

The story takes place in China in the year of 1917. A man named Liu Jinxi (Yen) resides in Liu Village with his wife Yu (Tang Wei) and their two sons. One day, two men try to rob the local store, which Liu just happens to be present. The two criminals end up dead, and Liu is the only one that walks away. The unusual event catches the eye of Xu Baijiu (Takeshi Kaneshiro), a detective who is convinced Liu isn't the man he says he is. Once Xu has confirmed there is more to Liu than meets the eye, the psychological conflict between the two men begins. Both actors, Yen and Kaneshiro are fantastic in their roles, with fine
character development enhancing their stellar performances.

Liu is a complex character, determined to live an ordinary life, but evidently hiding something terrible. The opening scene depicts him dining with his family in a tranquil home, and it is so genuine a moment that his sincere desire for reform cannot initially be doubted. However, as word of his whereabouts spreads, Liu's resolve is sternly tested, and he is forced to directly confront the demons of his past.

The first fight scene is entertaining in itself, then magnified when attack is meticulously reconstructed in Detective Baijiu's mind. The action is replayed, with an added focus on the crucial moments. The method of physiology in which Detective Baijiu analyzes the crime scene and attack is unique and captivating. Director Chan uses a range of visual effects, particularly to add precise detail to the development of internal wounds, a technique that remains effective throughout the film.

The last 20 minutes of "Dragon" take you completely by surprise. The conclusion of the last fight will make or break your opinion of the film. Nevertheless, "Dragon" delivers swift kicks and a barrage of bone crunching punches to the standard expectations of a remake. "Dragon" is a stunning display of martial arts action, mesmerizing detective work, and engaging performances.
April 18, 2013
Also known as Wu Xia. Somewhat like A History of Violence reset in rural China in 1917. It mixes elements of mystery, thriller and martial arts. Very well acted and directed. I enjoyed it very much.
January 10, 2012
Best martial art movie of the year. could have been explained more on the acupuncture at the end.. Had to be ended for time limit? I could only assume. Overall, it was entertaining. Although cliche, it's not too shallow
January 2, 2012
An amazing, epic film. Martial arts meets CSI in this Donnie Yen(Ip Man) powered flick. One of the best stories for a foreign film I have ever watched. A true masterpiece !!!
October 9, 2011
i liked the half of this movie that was asking questions bout justice, morality, and the human condition. the second half disappointed me when they decided to put it all up to a fist fight with the big bad. what started out as minimalist, smart, action.. exploded!! with flying!! and chi magic!! ...on the plus side the picture was very pretty!
June 22, 2014
While there's a lot of Kung Fu to be had, the movie plays more like a cross between A History of Violence and CSI.
May 29, 2014
It's like a Chinese version of "A History of Violence."
April 24, 2014
An interesting action/mystery movie about father-son relationships.
January 18, 2014
Dragon roars. A detective story and martial arts spectacle wrapped in one. A treat for martial arts fans.
October 7, 2013
I've been very impressed by recent Chinese martial art films recently e.g. The New Shaolin temple, Bodyguard and assassins, the grandmasters etc. WuXia/Swordsman or whatever it's called stood out for me. I loved the movie's homage to old school, Shaw brothers and western movies, not to mention the one armed boxer! These elements really mashed up well with the modern, high production stuff. Also the low key , film noir style, small southern village setting was a good change from the epic cityscapes and battle grounds often seen many of these period martial arts movies. The plot was excellent. All the side plots fitted well together except for perhaps Takeshi Kaneshiro's character's relationship with his wife, which was crammed into 2 minutes screen time... Not enough female stars I guess. Donnie Yen's Kung fu style was brilliant. I'm not a martial art expert but I'm guessing its some sort of Shaolin (Hong quan maybe?) From what I've seen Donnie yen does not do many northern styles in his films but it sure looks a lot better than some of the modern kickboxing/ MMA stuff he has been doing. Also I understand that Donnie yen's earlier experience of martial arts was wushu in Beijing, so this northern stuff could really be a potential avenue for Donnie.
Best scene: Donnie pull out his moves for the first time and then goes into a low stance (distorted electric guitar plays in the background)
April 14, 2013
Excellent movie, the cinematography, martial arts choreography and acting were absolutely top notch. A lot of plots and twists, unlike those awful cliche hollywood movies. The director isn't afraid to push the envelope and amaze as well as surprise the viewer. Unlike a lot of Hollywood movies where ...read moreyou can basically predict the each scene, this movie keeps you guessing each time. I would put this movie in the same category as IP Man. It really blew me away
November 1, 2012
Highly entertaining and watchable. One of the better Peter Chan movies in recent years.
October 20, 2012
The story, while interesting throughout, takes a convoluted turn halfway through which is particularly jarring but excellent visuals and many stylish scenes make up for this.
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