Ouch guys. The story-line is the biggest flaw and very questionable. Shanghai, early Republican China, 1920s. Professor Tang Yunlong (Vincent Zhao), a widowed adventurer, returns to China from the US for the first time since he left during the Qing dynasty. He is sponsoring some 500th anniversary martial arts games at a Daoist monastery in the Wudang Mountains, Hubei province, in which his teenage daughter, Tang Ning (Josie Xu), is to compete. En route to Shanghai’s railway station, Yunlong stops off to advise a friend from the Manchu nobility on the purchase of a 2,000-year-old sword, reputed to have magical properties, that has long gone missing. It made very little sense — no background story about the treasures, or characters; I’m not sure if the main lead is a doctor or an appraiser or just super martial artist!
The seller is an overseas Chinese arts trafficker, Paul Chen (Shaun Tam), who is asking US$300,000. Yunlong spots that the sword is a fake and narrowly escapes alive when Chen tries to kill him. However, Yunlong manages to keep a coded Wudang treasure map he found in the sword’s box. The con-schemes are not clever at all. As for the characters, they dress nice and look pretty, but not likeable. Most of the scenes are not consistent and not related to the future story line. The feeling is like…they putting ice cream, fried noodles, pudding, sandwich into a bowl of rice. The only common thing is you are using chopsticks to eat them.
As often happens in such cases, the movie is not really bad, “Wu Dang” like with nice amenities and attractive locations in the UNESCO-protected Wu Dang mountains, or other action scenes are staged very appealing but the cinematic mediocrity is full of works such as these. Guy met his wife in a Chinese Restaurant? Yeah, right. “Supermarket” in 1912? The mysterious female Kung-fu fighter wearing what? Her hair style? The tablet hung on the facade looked like just out of from a wooden artifact production line. Too many things here to just make me dislike the film. uen’s action sequences are the highlights, with slick use of wire-work, slo-mo and inventive choreography that actually advance the plot: in one sequence, Yang and Zhao’s characters start to bond in more way than one, as do Fan and Xu’s characters in another.
I thought this is a Taiwanese-production or a Chinese-production action film. However, for a HK movie, I expect a lot better action. The trailer looks good, but the movie is below average. It feels like a slapstick of action, romance, and adventure that make you think about the strange film production than being engaged in the movie. The real treat for viewers of this film are the landscapes and environments, but I really hope HK films like these die off soon. It is just a waste of film, talent, and resources. Avoid at all costs.