Hong Kong/China, 2011
New York Premiere
98 minutes, in Mandarin with English subtitles
Directed by: Peter Chan
Starring: Donnie Yen, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Jimmy Wang Yu, Tang Wei, Kara Hui
Donnie Yen will receive the Star Asia Award before the screening of DRAGON (WU XIA) on Monday, July 9 @ 7:45pm.
Note: tickets for this event are selling fast, however we’re also holding a bunch for special guests. There will definitely be a standby line on the night of the show. We can’t tell you what time to get there, but if tickets are unavailable online, keep checking back, and don’t give up hope!
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Monday, July 9 @ 7:45pm (buy tickets)
Peter Chan has become king of the intellectual blockbuster with his swoon-worthy musical, Perhaps Love, his tragic Jet Li vehicle, The Warlords, and his patriotic historical epic, Bodyguards & Assassins, and now he makes his first straight-no-chaser martial arts movie. Remember when Ang Lee did that with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? This is like that, only more so. DRAGON (WU XIA) has a heavy heart, a series of brilliantly conceived action setpieces, and enough humor to save it from self-importance. And it’s got something on its mind: if we are the choices we make, can we ever transcend our bad decisions? Is redemption real, or just a temporary way station on our road to hell?
Shot in luscious greens and woodsy browns, DRAGON (WU XIA) opens with a picture of domestic bliss. Donnie Yen is a papermaker living with his wife (Tang Wei) and two kids out in the middle of nowhere. Life in the country is good, but when two incompetent miscreants roll into his idyllic village, he’s forced to take action to preserve paradise. And take action he does, leaving the two thugs as dead as disco. Detective Xu (Hong Kong heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro) rolls into town to examine the corpses like a 1917 version of Sherlock Holmes, believing in just two things: science and the law. He uses his deep knowledge of medicine to figure out that Donnie is a martial artist in hiding, and that he might also be a psychopathic member of the 72 Demons, a clan of Hanguts who were hounded into near-extinction by the ruling Han Chinese.
Takeshi Kaneshiro and Donnie Yen play high stakes cat and mouse, while Tang Wei watches the man she thought she knew stripped of one lie after another until all that’s left in his place is a monster. Kara Hui, once Shaw Brother’s golden girl, is a blood-curdling, knife-wielding assassin whose battle with Donnie is the highlight of the middle of the movie, but she is nothing compared to Jimmy Wang Yu. The star of the classic Shaw Brothers film, One-Armed Swordsman, Jimmy Wang Yu is a living legend, and he turns in a scary-ass performance that essentially brings the end of the movie to a crashing halt with nothing more than his cold, empty eyes.
(Note: This version of DRAGON (WU XIA) runs 98 minutes, 12 minutes shorter than the Hong Kong cut. Director Peter Chan tightened up the movie after its Asian release and that’s the only version he’s made available to North American distributors.)