Mary Poppins Returns
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All Critics (29)
| Top Critics (10)
| Fresh (20)
| Rotten (9)
Amounts to a lavishly mounted series of airborne sword fights - each one more spectacular (and silly) than the last ...
For followers of wuxia films, the epic Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is a godsend...But the convoluted storyline...blunts the appeal for anyone who's not a fan.
The plot is secondary. "Flying Swords" is to be seen for its eye-popping action.
"Flying Swords" is a chunky spectacle, to be sure - overstuffed with plot and characters - but at times, it's an insanely entertaining one.
While the attractive performers and the action set pieces, including fights inside a sand tornado and around a spider's web of razor wire, are enough to carry you through the film, "Flying Swords" is a bit of a letdown ...
IMAX 3D turns a slightly above-average "wuxia" ("martial hero" action thriller) into an epic extravaganza.
Relentlessly, impossibly improbable and fun.
Visually inventive yet dramatically lacking.
It's fun in the moment, but hardly one for the ages.
The movie is beautifully designed and the action sequences are violent and truly spectacular in a hallucinatory way.
It's nonsense, but somehow irresistible.
Despite the movie's excessive length and incomprehensible plot, Tsui is still one of the world's absolute best at action and fight sequences; they move fast, but they're dazzlingly fluid and smooth.
At the end of the Ming Dynasty, the eunuchs are overcompensating in their thirst for power as they seek to crush their enemies. In order to keep them in check, the civil service employs Zhao Huai'an(Jet Li) to stop their reign of terror, and is successful when they try to execute some of the opposition. When Yu Huatian(Kun Chen) tries to kill women who might be carrying the emperor's child as a favor for a concubine, Su Huirong(Mavis Fan) makes good her escape from the palace. She only makes it as far as a ferry until she is intercepted by soldiers. But luckily she is rescued in the nick of time, not by Zhao, but by a woman using his name...
While one could normally think of Tsui Hark's movies as busy, "Flying Swords of Dragon Gate" takes it to a lesser level with its shoddy special effects. Its convoluted story not only includes the above intrigue but also all sorts of other business including a treasure hunt and at least one case of mistaken identity. The movie might have had a chance if it started with desperate characters at a barren outpost trying to outwait a killer storm but it takes too long to get there and then occasionally loses its way amongst so many other details.
The plot to this film isn't that important, unfortunately, too many of the action scenes use CGI to the point that it undermines the hard work of the martial artists themselves. Obviously this was done to aid the 3D effects, but it also jumps from impressive men on wires Wuxia work, to cartoonish looking visuals. The film is filled with likable characters, although the complexity of their different backgrounds and the backstabbings and twists gets a little convoluted at times. Perhaps watching Hark's Detective Dee put me in the mood for a fun and frolicking adventure with incredible action, instead it was enjoyable, but just didn't push the boundaries.
When Tsui Hark incorporates 3D with Wuxia, Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is the outcome.
As far as the main plot-line goes, it is anything but epic; however, when the subplots kick in and all the characters fall into place, this film ends up as one entertaining action adventure. That isn't to say that there is masterful storytelling going on, but quite a bit does transpire in nearly 2 hours of screen time.
The martial arts is highly stylized and fast paced. The use of CG on the other hand is a mixed bag, but not a movie destroyer by any means. It is used visually to further enhance the action sequences, as well as the 3D. There are tons of objects flying in every direction, all the while the characters perform magnificent flips and jumps across the screen.
There are numerous characters to put up with and even Jet Li ends up getting pushed to the background for a good stretch of the picture. This isn't a problem, especially with the likes of Zhou Xun, Kwai Lun-mei, and Li Yuchun holding the reigns and dishing out some pain.
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is more outlandish than it is epic or dramatic. It entertains.
What a disappointing night! Full cinema, perfect 3D, high expectations... and just an average wuxia Jet Li film which will be soon forgotten regardless the reunion of the director Tsui Hark with his Once Upon a Time in China leading man Li... Li wasn't the only star, big names like Zhou Xun, Aloys Chen Kun, Kwai Lun-Mei, Li Yuchun and Fan Xiaoxuan were there with him, but even they could not help with the final result - just simply said: nothing special!
Amazingly, though, 3D Flying Swords of Dragon Gate pulled in $2.5 million on 59 IMAX screens across China during its opening weekend! No wonder, because this is the first time 3D is employed in a wuxia film, and audience in China reacted on this new technology injection into the more traditional film industry.
I have to say that effects were well done and maybe the reason is that the director Tsui had Chuck Comisky, the visual-effects supervisor for James Cameron's Avatar, as the 3-D director to manage the special effects. But you cannot have a movie of effects only. But if you disagree with this, maybe you'll enjoy this latest film with Jet Li.
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