You have to hand it to Chow Yun Fat: he deserves a Nobel prize, or a humanitarian award, or maybe one of those awards you get on ITV, presented by the likes of Carole Vordeman, for being a very special, heartwarmingly helping and kind person, for the fact that his movie has a cast which consists of EVERYONE IN CHINA. That is employment on a massive scale - I can only assume that that's all of China's problems sorted now, everyone is famous, rich and in Hollywood...
Anyway, the film. Well, we went to see it on a Friday night, at 9.00, and there were a total of 7 people in the screening. This could be for one of two reasons, either:
A) Everyone is out having fun, getting drunk, or watching it at another, more central cinema
B) Everyone who has already seen the film killed themselves as soon as it ended or before, thereby making it impossible for them to recommend it to anyone else. (In this sense, you could describe the film like a particularly virulent disease which succeeds in wiping out an entire species, and then itself.)
I'm plumping for B) on this one. It just seems more plausible.
I don't want to spoil it for you, so I wont give you all the twists and turns, but the upshot is this: everybody dies or goes stark raving bonkers.
And since the population of China is 1,313,973,713, and they're all in the film, this takes quite some time, not to mention an inordinate quanitity of fake blood. Do not be fooled, however, by a death-count which would put Pol Pot to shame, nor by the trailers which show many interesting Ninjas leaping about the place excited/ingly. No, no, you fools. Yes, there are Ninja types, and a ginormous battle, but these scenes are the exceptions to the rule of slowness which controls the rest of the film.
The plot is good though - it is essentially a Greek tragedy in Chinese (in a number of ways) but I was somewhat let down by the woeful lack of fancy-ass Wing Chun, and deeply put out by many of the highly irritating details of the film, like why the Emperor (who appears to be the richest person in the world) would actually pay people to wander round his huge palace banging gongs on-the-hour-every-hour, shouting stuff like "Heaven and Earth collide, giant wombats fall from space - Now is the hour of the terrapin!" or words to that effect. Just buy a clock....showy bastard.
The film has its good points - the costumes, the sets (comedy factor if nothing else -what is the point in see-through bamboo doors?), the acting, the plot and, if nothing else, the sheer scale of it.
Nevertheless, if you recommend it to a loved one and they commit suicide soon after, well, its probably going to be your fault. That's all I'm saying....
Think about it.