This whack of craziness from Andrew Lau includes some of the greatest genre collisions I’ve ever seen. Starting with a epic First World War set piece, we’re introduced to a band of Chinese heroes that use their chop-socky whims to overtake Germans, after the Europeans have (naturally) fled in a fit of cowardice. This first sequence could easily hold an audience entertained for feature length, but it’s a tease for the other events yet to come.
The film then jets to Shanghai, where we spend the rest of the crime/love/musical/adventure/kung-fu film in a locale that looks not a little bit like the “Club Obi-Wan” sequence from INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM. We’ve got gangster bosses, Japanese warlords, Mata Hari spy-sluts, and Songs! Songs! Songs! Oh, and they also basically redo what seems like hundreds of Bruce Lee fight sequences, with the fight foley escalating with each battle until the finale where we have full on “EEE-YAH!” caterwauling like the originals.
On it’s face, the thing is a mess, but if you let its craziness wash over you, it’s hard to ignore that it’s the bargain of the festival, with a dozen or more different movies crammed into one. This is pastiche gone mad, yet it’s so endearing (even the over-the-top Nationalistic zeal is almost quaint in its lack of subtlety) that it’s easy to recommend. Never has propaganda been so fun to watch, this Donnie Yen-does-FISTS OF FURY Kung Fu-fest is a treat to see.