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Let the Bullets Fly

‘Let’ it be.

Rod Lott April 27th, 2012

Set in South China 1919, the China/Hong Kong blockbuster Let the Bullets Fly slaps the viewer to attention with a bravura beginning: an action set piece in which masked robbers on horseback use the most ancient of technologies (the ax) to stop a train by flipping it over. With that opening, comparisons to South Korea’s The Good, the Bad, the Weird are inevitable, right down to the needless bloating running time.


Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from there, as Bullets reveals itself not so much an action epic as it is a slapstick comedy in a story of political poseurs, full of elements that encounter difficulty in translation. I do, however, appreciate its odd sense of humor, which could be classified as gallows at times. Example: When the question of whether the governor's son ate one or two meals is raised, it’s answered by stabbing his stomach and pulling out the contents of his guts. That's a new one.

All but absent from Hollywood after the Dragonball: Evolution debacle, the great Chow Yun-Fat has a ball (who wouldn’t in his snappy, GQ-ready wardrobe?), but his spirit can't quite burst into infectiousness for the viewer — or at least this viewer, who slurps up Asian films like pho noodles drowned in Sriracha.

Director/writer Jiang Wen (arguably better-known as an actor, with credits like Warriors of Heaven and Earth) harbors an over-reliance on CGI effects in the action scenes. It could be argued that many of his contemporaries do, too, but something — budgetary restrictions, perhaps? — keep the effects from calling attention to themselves. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
The Good, the Bad, the Weird DVD review 

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