Dragon (2011)

Posted in Reviews by - March 15, 2015
Dragon (2011)

Donnie Yen‘s post-Ip Man work is, on the whole, quite magnificent, and this is no exception. He unites with The Warlords director Peter Chan for an exuberant period piece set in a quiet, rural Chinese idyll in 1917. Yen is the simple, understated family man Jinxi who becomes a local hero after thwarting a violent robbery and killing the culprits. Kaneshiro plays the police inspector Xu who doesn’t buy Jinxi’s vulnerable story. In a clever sequence, Xu recalls the same fight sequence in forensic detail as the camera spirals through computer-generated images of blood vessels and internal organs, like something from CSI: Miami, helping to highlight the deceptive techniques involved in Jinxi’s qigong fighting style. He’s clearly an expert martial artist, and the film keeps the audience guessing as to Jinxi’s true identity in shades of David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence. Xu is shrouded in a similar mysticism: his dangerous schizophrenic side underlying an obsession in bodily manipulation and pressure points. Peter Chan paces the film beautifully. Its slow deceit bubbles away delicately before stepping into full-on kung fu mode for the final act, bolstered by the appearance of two Shaw Brothers legends – Wang Yu and Kara Hui – who punctuate the film with two of its best fight sequences. Even the broiling family feud at the heart of the story packs an emotional punch, with Peter Chan getting top performances from all involved. The “science” stuff is silly but refreshingly original in a film of this type and only adds to it’s overall charm. Highly recommended.

AKA: SwordsmanWu Xia

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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