10:27 - 24th January 2013, by Calum Waddell

The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate

Oh Jet Li, whatever happened to you? Recent outings from Hong Kong's once-golden boy of martial arts have, let's face it, been thoroughly underwhelming, and this latest effort is no exception.

What we have here is a bare-faced a rehash of 1966's Taiwanese classic Dragon Gate Inn and 1992's Cantonese cash-in New Dragon Gate Inn (itself produced by Tsui Hark, who takes on the directorial gears for this latest outing). Unfortunately, there is little new or innovative about this period-set martial arts epic. Instead, we just have lots of CGI, a ridiculously long and drawn out 'red herring' character who is, in fact, undercover as a covert villain, and the occasional moment of wire-fu craziness which is so digitally enhanced that it is difficult to ascertain if we are actually in the middle of a video game promo.

The story, such as it is, has a bunch of heroic types sheltering from enemy attack in a spacious desert hideaway - but it takes them some time to get there and, when they do, little in the way of heart-beating action ensues anyway. Li is perfectly fine in his role as a man defending honour in a time of Ming Dynasty corruption but he is given little to work with - either as regards pushing his thespian abilities, or his gymnastic expertise. For those with the technology in place, Hark's use of 3D is, at least, a little more inspired - with logs and sticks poked into the camera and an extra depth given to some of the animation. Regardless, though, this is still a massive mess of a movie.

One certainly expects better from Hark and Li at this point in their careers. This inn is closed for business.
SCORE: 2/5
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