Dragon Tiger Gate

Viewed – 24 April 2011  Blu-ray

Two brothers in the Hong Kong / Triad underworld are forced to bury their differences when a ruthless gang boss rages war.  Kung Fu legend Donnie Yen plays Dragon, the lead henchman of the White Lions gang, and newcomer Nicholas Tse plays Tiger Wong, part of the much respected Tiger Gate training academy.

The story is thin at best, with bland characters and very little depth.  Yet we’re not here for deep messages and meaning – we’re here to see Donnie Yen and Nicholas Tse kick ass … and does this one deliver!  Director Wilson Yip’s movie is awash with colour, special effects and jaw dropping action, that although ridiculous and fantastical compared to Yen’s much acclaimed Ip Man movies, still packs a helluva punch.   Naturally a compelling story would have gone a long way to caring for these characters, and with well used kung fu movie clichés such as rival fighting schools and silly sounding martial arts styles, this severely lacks anything to sink your teeth into beyond the admittedly beautiful visuals.  Yen remains one of the finest action stars around though, and also choreographs the action brilliantly, even if subtlety and restraint go out of the window.  Nicholas Tse, one of a group of good looking Asian stars more famous for being pop stars than martial artists, delivers a great physical performance and carries the movie well, aided by a nunchuku wielding Shawn Yue, sporting a frightful grey wig, and a likable Dong Jie as a gang boss’ daughter.

So by all means check this out.  It’s packed with action and style, but the limited story and wafer thin characterisation may leave you cold.

Verdict:  3 /5