Dragon Tiger Gate

Dragon Tiger Gate

Donnie Yen is obviously flavour of the month at the moment as, no sooner had his previous film SPL become a big hit, he was off to work on another big film, Dragon Tiger Gate. The film is based on an oriental comic book and, unlike SPL, features wirework and CGI to give the action scenes a more fantastical edge.

DVD Details >>

The Film

Dragon Tiger GateDragon Tiger GateDragon Tiger GateDragon Tiger GateDragon Tiger GateDragon Tiger GateDragon Tiger GateDragon Tiger Gate

This film is all about style; from the off the wall camera work (view a fight scene taking place in mutliple rooms at once by looking from the top down, like a live action verison of 80`s calssic arcade game Gauntlet) to the slightly bizarre long, floppy haircuts sported by the 3 main actors, evertyhting has been overdesigned to look great, if slightly out of place. Indeed, the opening shot after the credit sequence (which itself is an expanded rip off of the Marvel films flickering comic book pages logo seen right at the start of films like Spiderman and The Fantastic Four) has a very futuristic feel to it but Arhtur doesn`t think the film was supposed to be set in the future. Maybe an alternate universe or an exagertaed version of Hong Kong?

The story follows 2 brothers who were separated when they were young; Tiger (played by Nicholas Tse) and Dragon (Donnie yen). After their mother was killed Tiger goes to live at a martial arts refuge for homeless kids called The Gate but Dragon ends up with a local gangster boss.

Now all grown up, Dragon is a bodyguard for his adoptive gangland father whilst Tiger lives and works at The Gate with ohter homeless children. It is here that he meets Turbo (Shawn Yue) another young fighter (who sepialise in nunchucks) who wants to study under The Gate`s martial arts master. All 3 of these main charcaters sport the aforementioned "long hair covering thier faces" haircuts. Turbo`s hair is particularly ridiculous looking like a bad blonde wig (in fact Arthur though the charcater was a girl at first as Turbo is wearing what looks like a 1960`s rasta hat when he is first introduced!). The brothers are thrown back together again after years of being apart when Tiger "accidentally" acquires a golden plaque given to the boss of his brother Dragon, whoch symbolises a trade agreement between 2 rival criminal gangs.

There are plenty of action scenes littered throughout the film featuring some nice action. The first few scenes involve big brawls with the stars of the film battling it out with a seemingly neverending tide of disposable bad guys. Later on the action becomes more fantastical with more wire work and computer generated effects. And the final action scene, which takes place in what looks like a futuristic Battersea powerstation from the outside and a set from The Crystal Mazer on the inside, involves lots of fists, feet, bodies and heads crunching into concrete walls, floors and pillars.

Unlike SPL which had a sensible, coherent storline to follow, this film is a bit of a mess. The main villain of the film who features in the final showdown, only really first appears in the last 1/2 hour. And it`s not really clear why he`s so evil apart fropm the fact he wears a tatterd, manky mask and a swirling, demonic cloakand is a really shit hot brutal fighter. The first pasrt of the film deals more with getting the brother Tiger and Dragon back on the same side, including a number of cheesy flashbacks with some appallingly bad child actors who have been given equally appalingly bad long haired wigs (just so you can tell who they are supposed to be) to match the floppy hairstyles of their grown up charcaters.

Still, the film certainly delivers on the action front. It also looks great and sounds even better and thus Arthur says that if you like this kind of thing, it is well worth seeing even if it was a bit of a flop in its native Hong Kong where it was generally disliked by critics.

The DVD

Another great Hong Kong DVD from Deltamac at a great price too (about £8). THis is a 2 disc set, the first disc containing the film and the second disc containing all the extras. The film in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and the picture looks nice and clear. There are multiple soundtracks including Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES. Arthur chekced out the DTS ES track and it was fantastic. Arthur suspects it was full bitrate DTS rather than the more common half bitrate as it sounded really rich and smooth with plenty of well controlled, deep bass. Artrhur hasn`t lookd at the extras on the second DVD yet but it includes documentaries, deleted scenes etc. - all the usual kind of thing. However once again the only let down were the sub standard subtitles which often read as though they had been written by a dyslexic 6 year old.

Also for some strange reason the inside of the DVD case smelt of weed killer - perhaps it is a new terrorist plot to kill Hong Kong DVD fans via the use of contact poison. Alternatively it could have been the 3 free rub on tattoos giving off a strange odor.