Flying Swords of Dragon Gate
Crouching Dragon, Hidden Dagger. The House of Flying Tigers. It really doesn’t matter what you call them. Really you could change the title of this particular film to Flying Dragons of Sword Gate and nothing would change. The plot makes zero sense, the characters whizz past in a blur of fists and flapping cloaks and all of the names blur into one. To give them some credit, they can kick. My, can they ever kick…
The trailer makes it seem as though there is a plot to this film. Believe me when I tell you that there isn’t, unless you consider people swirling around like turds in a U-bend for over two and a half hours ‘a plot’. To give you some kind of idea of how confusing Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is, here is an attempt at describing the action. A bunch of Eunuchs that work for the emperor have gained a lot of power and decide to create an East and West Bureau. I’m not quite sure what this means but it seems to be a bad thing and they spend most of their time drinking a lot of ‘pickled wine flesh’. The hero (Li) is a bit like Robin Hood. He goes around sorting out bad ass perpetrators. Meanwhile some baby-faced evil prince is going about killing his pregnant concubines.
However, one of then manages to escape and is helped out by a female ninja pretending to be Li. She helps to take Preggers to Dragon Gate where they hide out at the Inn there before trying to escape across the border. Suddenly everyone is rocking up at the inn’s door like it’s flipping Christmas, including some Tartars, the prince’s evil hordes, another female warrior and her accomplice, Blade in the Wind, who coincidentally is a total lookalike of the evil prince. Obviously this makes for a volatile mix and they all try to kill each other. Bad news is there is a sandstorm on the way that will rip the inn apart… but also the storm will uncover a city under the sand full of gold. Ninja girl, prince lookalike, Preggers and the others team up against the real prince and his evil friends. Then Jet Li turns up and it just gets even harder to follow.
It’s all a big mess and not helped in any way by the action and hideous CGI. All of the characters can fly (obviously) and most of them also have telekinetic powers (standard). By far though, the biggest problem is that the first hour of Flying Swords of Dragon Gate has nothing at all to do with the rest of the film. Wine-flesh-drinking emperor never appears again and the Eunuchs seems to vanish into thin air. Just as you think you are getting it, Preggers turns up and upsets everything.
To say something good about this film, there is a pretty decent twist. I didn’t see it coming. But then as I had no idea what the crap was going on 98% of the time, it isn’t all that surprising. Kun Chen who (besides having the most flawless skin in the world) also does a pretty decent job at playing both the evil prince and his dorky lookalike. A much better job than say, Leonardo DiCaprio in The Man in the Iron Mask… Chen makes it nice and clear when he is playing evil (normally stabbing someone with a dagger wielded by his eyes) and playing goofy (dressed in white and pulling funny faces). All I can say is thank god someone was there to try and give some meaning to it all.
I found out later that Flying Swords of Dragon Gate might be a sequel to an earlier film… I am dubious if watching the first one will shed any light on the action here. If you are in the mood for twirling ninjas and a sand storm that sounds like a new Ben and Jerry’s flavour (‘The Flying Swirl Dragon’ – yum) then maybe give this film a watch. Just fast forward the first hour… or perhaps slightly more.