Notable Cast: Donnie Yen, Nicholas Tse, Shawn Yue, Yuen Wah
"Dragon Tiger Gate" is a film that on paper looks to be one to blow other modern kung fu films out of the water. Director Wilson Yip ("Ip Man" series, "Flashpoint", "Killzone") taking one of his favorite actors Donnie Yen (same films as above) partnered with Nicholas Tse and gunning them into an over the top comic book based kung fu film? Can I get a resounding fuck yeah?! The problem: even "Dragon Tiger Gate" can't live up to its own potential. The resulting film certainly lives up to its over the top comic book reputation, but the damn thing comes off as rather incohesive and often too cliche with its story.
The triads have been getting a bit vicious towards each other lately. It's even starting to effect a small justice focused martial arts school called Dragon Tiger Gate and their students. When Tiger (Nicholas Tse) and some of his friends end up on the wrong side of one of these disputes, he finds that his long lost half brother Dragon (Donnie Yen) is the personal bodyguard of the triad leader. With the help of a wandering martial artist Turbo (Shawn Yue) and the wisdom of their father Mast Wong (Yuen Wah), they will have to team up for the first time in years to defeat a vicious criminal Shibumi (Yu Kang) before getting on with their lives.
|Never has this many heroes had this much sweeping side bangs.|
Then the film takes a massive turn for the worse. I was initially hesitant about the films comic book like style and origins. And often those hesitations were justified as the film goes to some very cheesy fantasy elements in the latter half to create a more epic atmosphere. After the first series of fights, the film drags in the middle portion as we are given a lot of very cheesy and cliche family problems to contend with. Some ill fitting romantic subplots and the introduction to our villain which is half assed at best. The dubbing here ruins most any of the acting and the way that it plays out just kills any of the momentum established in the beginning. If it wasn't for some pretty sleek camera work from Wilson Yip and a strong artistic comic book look it would damn near be a tooth pulling experience here.
|Bruce Lee never had to do a comic book movie.|
I definitely can see why people enjoy this film. It's fun, cheesy, and the combination of Tse, Yen, and Yip is one of such a volatile nature its hard not to enjoy on some sort of fanboy level. Overall the film is just so damn inconsistent in its story telling and writing that no level of charm from these three individuals could override it. Mostly for curious fans, but I highly suggest many of the later films from these three masters of the genre than this one.
Written By Matt Reifschneider
Big fan of Donnie Yen? Perhaps of Wilson Yip? Then you should probably own this film no matter what. That's why you should click below and pick up a copy for yourself. Maybe it will grow on you.