|DVD Rang zi dan fei
Run time: 132 min
Genres: Action | Comedy | Western
Director: Wen Jiang
Writers: Junli Guo, Wen Jiang
Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Wen Jiang, You Ge
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. Written by Anonymous
|Plot Keywords: 1920s, bandit gang, satire|
Country: China, Hong Kong
Release Date: 10 August 2012 (UK)
Budget: $18,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $11,287 (USA) (2 March 2012)
Gross: $60,040 (USA) (6 April 2012)
Jiang Wen is a good actor and great director. He reminds me of Clint Eastwood, who is also a good actor and great director. Wen Jiang only have 4 films as director, he is not productive but every film he made is masterpiece to me. I love the Devils on the Doorstep most, it tell some truth no one fear to say.
Let The Bullets Fly is newest work of Jiang Wen. I watched the Chuan idiom edition today, very love it. Chuan idiom is one of Chinese hundreds idiom, the people live in Sichuan Province and Chongqing use it in their daily life. The reason why the movie have a idiom edition because the script is adapted from a novel of a old Sichuan writer. That's too much fun to watch the movie with the familiar idiom. However I love it not because the idiom, the reason is it's a good movie.
This movie is mixture of Quentin Tarantino and Sergio Leone, full of bizarre funny idea and masculinity. The last film The Sun Also Rises is criticized too vague, so this one is totally a commercial film. But as the one said in this film, he can made money without knee to others, Jiang Wen not knee to business, there's no disgusting ads and low-grade lines only passion for a good work, that's not easy for present Chinese film. This is why I respect him.
Some sensitive people like me aware some political metaphor in this film, this feeling is similar to the one I felt in Devils on the Doorstep. Jiang Wen knows Chinese deeply, or maybe he just so brave and smart can tell the public what he knows. Someones know the truth but they keep it and exchange it with fortune. Someones speak it loudly and directly, they only scared the public and get suffering. Of course in Jiang Wen's way, only small amount of people know what he want to say, but that's enough. Truth always rests with the minority.
Although this is a good movie, the non Chinese native speakers may found a little difficult to understand it, it like more a Cult than a commercial film to them.
In early 1920s, China was in civil war and it was an era when disorder became part of life. Bangde Ma ( GE, You) who just became the mayor of a remote town through bribery was robbed by a group of bandits led by Pock Zhang ( JIANG, Wen). However Ma could not afford any ransom because he had used up all his money for bribery and the only way to collect money was to use the ruling power of the mayor title. Zhang decided to take Ma's position as the new mayor while Ma posed as his private adviser under the name of Tang.
Their destination, the Goose Town, was actually controlled by notorious mafia clan of the Huang family and the only way to collect money was to fully cooperate with the family and handed out most of their gains. However Zhang was only interested in rich families black money and believed in fair justice for each person, which made Huang the IV ( CHOW, Yun-Fat), the boss of the clan, very very unhappy. Almost immediately Zhang and Huang became enemies and the Goose Town would soon turn to be a battle field as well as a stage of hypocrisy, cheating, apathy and snobbery.
The first impression of the movie is that it is no doubt of a typical Hollywood style action comedy composed by every piece of commercial element you can find in other Hollywood action movies such as gun firing, explosions, beauties, muscles, fast moving, slangs, and etc. The movie itself is of great fun and you will laugh from the beginning to the end. Also the story is told in a straightforward way and there would be no problem of understanding it even if you have no idea where China is located. The problem, however, is how to interpret Jiang Wen. Let the Bullets Fly is becoming one of the hottest and the most appraised movies in recent years in China neither because it is more dazzling than the Avatar nor because it is more surprising than the Inception. It is welcomed because many Chinese viewers regard the story as a mirror of present China and a movie with strong critical acclaim should have not been approved for public show by the authority such as Jiang Wen's previous movie the Devils on the Doorstep. Interestingly, different people can interpret the movie in a way they like and this may be the power of a comedy. Frankly speaking, if you are not a Chinese, chances are you will enjoy the movie for funny stuff while not the metaphor of the movie.
There are so many funny metaphors but you do need to be somewhat acquainted with Chinese to understand them. I think this will be a difficult film for non-Chinese to grasp, especially with a lot of deadpan satire and dark humor. It is extremely funny in a way, especially the scene between Jiang Wen and Carina Lau where she displayed a series of objects to him in bed. You won't "get it" if you don't understand Chinese proverbs and surreptitious meaning. So I'm not surprised if this movie will be rated exceptionally intelligent to its Chinese audience but will appear to many as silly, improbable and illogical.
With the current election fever brewing in Singapore, one can't help but to view this through a tinted prism and taken note of the surreal, and perhaps coincidental parallels in this Jiang Wen film about the relentless grab for power and money amongst officials and wannabes, of that fight for moral justice against another hell bent on consolidating ill gotten gains and fending off new entrants to the turf. Jiang Wen doesn't make as many films as he stars in, but here's a Chinese filmmaker with an interesting vision, almost always successfully blending stylish art-house sensibilities and visuals with mass entertainment, bearing the biggest names and featuring the hallmarks of a rich Mandarin language.
The incredibly strong story centers around three major characters set in the warring 1920s in China, with Ge You playing Bangde Ma, a man who had unscrupulously bought his position of governorship and is on his way to claim it, having done his sums and understanding the material wealth that comes with holding that position through partnering the rich and the exploitation of the weak. However the train he's travelling in with his wife (Carina Lau) gets hijacked by infamous bandit Pocky Zhang (Jiang Wen) and his band of loyal merry men, who decide to take on Bangde's identity as the incoming Governor of Goose Town, while keeping the real Bangde Ma by their side as a councilor for his political savvy. But standing in their way is the local godfather and real seat of power Wang (Chow Yun-Fat) and his gang, which obviously sets a showdown between the two camps.
And I'm not kidding you when I say there are parallels drawn here with our sunny little island, since the introductory shot of Goose Town made it seem like an island that Bangde Ma and Pocky Zhang had to cross into, before confronted with by a wily, scheming political incumbent determined to hold onto his turf and not yield it without a fight. Like politicians, they plot and counterplot against each other's schemes, with deep mistrust all round even when smiling at each other during a round table discussion. Those amongst the elites horde most of the wealth of the town, and it is not until Pocky Zhang had a change in heart and strategy of wealth distribution and moral justice did he find it within himself and his lean, mean team to inch toward power in his fight for the little man. Though of course it's pretty clear still who's being manipulated for someone's objective.
As a film, Let the Bullets Fly is sheer spectacle for its action sequences, lush cinematography, and comically awkward CG at times, with some scenes being deliberately and extremely over the top. But that's part of the fun, as the narrative is kept tight with nary a wasted scene, and what would be one of the best parts of the film is the rapid fire dialogue exchange between characters. Black humour is rampant as well to make this very close to a laugh a minute affair through its wickedness, though I have to admit at times things do get lost in translation, especially when required to read between the lines of what's said when the characters try to outdo one another, or in attempts to understand their opponents, through many twists and turns.
Stellar performances from the leads make this a must watch as well. Jiang Wen has this air of gravitas associated with his presence, and he makes for a believable bandit who found the moral courage to turn his life, and that of his followers, around to fight the good fight against Chow's Wang. Chow Yun Fat redeems himself from his really cringeworthy foray into Hollywood with dubious roles in films like Dragonball Evolution, and his performance here in dual roles as Wang and his body double, reminds us why Chow is top of the class when he gets his act together in the right charismatic role. Ge You himself is no pushover, although his character gets the least screen time. Still, when all three share the same frame or scene, the mood is nothing short of electrifying, as they banter and feed off one another's energy.
And Jiang Wen also assembled a credible ensemble support group with the likes of Carina Lau, Hu Jun in yet another cameo as a make pretend Pocky Zhang, Chen Kun as a cocky young upstart in Wang's camp, and even Feng Xiaogang making a cameo in the beginning of the film trying to suck up to Bangde Ma. You can label it a satire, or an action comedy, but one thing's for sure, this Chinese film showcases just what their industry is capable off in pulling something quirky, offbeat and yet entertaining for the masses. Jiang Wen continues to expand his filmography in a slow but assured pace, and hopefully we can get to see another one of his films soon. Highly recommended as one of the best this year, and I'm really tempted to get the DVD in order to watch this battle of wits all over again.