I really wanted to like this movie, I really did. The behind-the-scenes were encouraging and the anticipation of an Asian/HK comicbook adaptation is too delish to ignore
Dragon Tiger Gate (Lung Fu Mun) is really an individual creature unto itself and should be "judged" and enjoyed for what it is (and not what I hoped it was), IMHO.
The Good Bits:
01. Sound Design gets top honors, for me. You feel each and every punch. every power-up. every bone crunch. And that for me lifts this flick above the rest.
02. Inspired Costuming (styling consultation by William Chang!) and Art Airection (tho at times overtly contrived) ~ which provided a parallel universe (to ours) in which the characters live and fight. (altho I haveta say I hated the Singapore-movie poster ~refer insert~ wtf have them posing within the concrete skyscrapers?). Appreciating the efforts to create said universe. and yes, even the hair.
03. Donnie Yen (Dragon Wong), Nicholas Tse (Tiger Wong) and Shawn Yue (Turbo Shek) equip themselves with the necessary skills to kick, punch and pose tough throughout the flick ~ well, mayhap just Nic and Shawn lah ~ Donnie's the "action director/fight choreographer" and the dude "naturally" pumps his pecs hard here.
04. The moves and fight scenes are top-notch slick and hard, and are what makes the movie and definitely worth watching on the big screen. 'Nuff said.
01. Why must the villain wear that stupid-mask? Dude looks like a vagabond dey ... hard to respect an opponent who doesn't groom himself, is all ima sayin' ...
02. Attempts were made to layer the motivations and actions of the characters, via tacky flashbacks and probably comic-styled dialogue and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. Always the tricky-bit when crossing comics and movies ...
03. As much as they try to infuse emotional depth within the storyline, with exception Donnie's and his assassin-lover's ~ it comes off slightly contrived and forced and all I could do was shudder in my shoes.
Other than that, the themes of "revenge" and "redemption" were what drove the movie forward, which is not that bad a thing really ...
With alla that said, technically, this film is as brill as it can/could get, in this genre ... but sadly the "soul" is lacking ~ but hey, this a comic-adapted movie, innit? And with that in mind, it really was an enjoyable watch for me and yes, it is recommended for the big screen, for it's epic scope and grandeur. and personally, it might even be worth the weekend price of the ticket :)
detailed feature on loveasianfilm (contains plot spoilers).
(review circa 10.08.06)