At 54 years old, the Hong Kong action star of John Woo’s The Killer and Hard-Boiled is still ready to kick some tail. Chow Yun-Fat is following his starring role in Mei Hu’s Confucius with a turn in Jiang Wen’s $18 million picture Let the Bullets Fly. Set in China during the warring 1920s, notorious bandit chief Zhang descends upon a remote provincial town posing as its new mayor, an identity that he had hijacked from Old Tang, himself a small-time imposter. Hell-bent on making a fast buck, Zhang soon meets his match in the tyrannical local gentry Huang as a deadly battle of wit and brutality ensues. At its most basic, the story is a Chinese version of the classic Robin Hood tale, and it is a good return to form for Chow Yun Fat.
I don’t know about you, but I was ready for a Chow Yun Fat movie that wasn’t awful. After watching him in Bulletproof Monk and Dragonball Z, I was beginning to wonder if the guy had given up trying to land a quality project. With his box-office power, Ge You is set to help Let the Bullets Fly make a domestic splash and I think with the starpower behind the flick, it will do just that. There is plenty of action and quick tidbits of humor here and there sprinkled throughout. The writing, in particular, is enjoyable, its clever and manages to bring in a lot of humor as I mentioned beforehand.
Although this is a good movie, the non Chinese native speakers may found a little difficult to understand it, as there is plenty of political metaphors in the film. This is evident since Actor-director Jiang Wen’s Let the Bullets Fly topped the Chinese box office with a fantastic opening to become the first certified 2010 Christmas hit in China. In fact, it has already been scheduled to be remade in America! Well, that was quick. If nothing else, the movie imparts a better look at the director’s personality, since Let the Bullets Fly oozes Jiang’s personal style in the form of his likes and dislikes. Though a screenwriter has many stories to tell, it is evident that he can only make a film well when he is in a good mood. No complaints there, as its opening midnight shows reportedly recorded 765,000 admissions, overtaking the record Avatar made with 763,600 earlier this year.
All in all, this is a solid, if self-absorbing, film. The 132-minute movie develops at a nicely tense pace that didn’t feel bogged down. The most attractive thing about this movie is that the story is quite coherent. The whole story happens in old China, when there are many corruption in the old government and the governor of the county could be bought. The setting is interesting and the film moves well, so why am I not giving more praise? Well, this movie demands that you tread carefully, so the thing is that people shouldn’t make comments without careful consideration first. A rash comment is an act of irresponsibility. I feel if you are an Asian movie-goer you will get more out of this film then most, and perhaps I am not alone in that assumption since so many Hollywood markets are looking to capatilize on a remake. There is a lot to enjoy here, if you can find it.