I sat down to start watching Dragon Tiger Gate with a hope. I have put some real crap into my queue, some that I stop watching five minutes after I start. The film opens and it looks like it actually has production value. That is a good sign. Then the camera draws back to show an elaborate restaurant scene filled with unique characters throughout. Please be good! Then you see bad guys doing bad things, and the face of our hero getting pissed. You are doing everything right, please have an awesome fight scene!!! The hero stands up, walks over to the ruffians, and then he kicks one of them.
I was alone in my apartment. I yelled at the top of my lungs: YES!!! What proceeded was a fight scene the way that a fight scene should be done. Think of the “Million Smith’s” fight scene from The Matrix Reloaded, done with 100% real actors and where everyone actually knows how to fight. I am not putting down the scene from Reloaded. I love that movie. But this was so much more than what the Wachowskis did.
Every fight scene in this film should be studied by Hollywood. They use real people in every frame. They look real, but still are able to use wire-fu in order to make the characters super human. The camera stays wide and in one spot, so that we can actually see AND UNDERSTAND what is happening. If you love an epic fight scene, you need to see this movie.
So I went over to IMDB to find out who was responsible for this, and what I found should have been obvious. Donnie Yen. The man. The myth. The legend. If you have not seen Ip Man or Ip Man 2, you are missing out on life. Not to mention Hero or Iron Monkey. The dude has some amazing skills.
The great part is that the fight scenes kept getting more and more ridiculous. But they stayed believable in the universe this film created. Dragon, Tiger and Turbo (aka, the character’s names) all take on a building full of hundreds of henchmen. And they kick ass doing it.
Dragon and Tiger’s master fights Turbo and whoops him. The big bad fights the master, Turbo and Tiger. He destroys them. At this point the fights involve flaming fists, concrete and bricks being destroyed like they are cotton, and giant slabs of metal being treated as if they are sheets of paper. And there are still more fights to come. Seriously, even if you only watch the fights and fast forward through everything else, you will be happy you did.
What about everything else you ask? This movie is dubbed. But most scenes are shot from a distance, so the lip to words disparity doesn’t seem to matter too much. I thought that was a nice trick.
The story itself is very melodramatic and overly told. When they tell you to show it and not tell it, they are not telling you to show everything and really really make sure that the audience understands what is going on. I am glad that they fleshed out the characters so much. But did I really need to see the child beating that occurs to Dragon and Tiger when they were young? I get that it shows how strong their bond is even though they are separated, yet I was already invested in their bond.
That being said, no part of this movie made me want to stop watching it or even skip to the fight scenes. This is a fully realized origin story of how the guardians of Dragon Tiger Gate came to be its guardians. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I would highly recommend it.
Have you seen Dragon Tiger Gate? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.