"Punches and kicks send people flying 20 times further than scientifically possible. Spinning Nunchuku really, really(really, really) fast creates a protective and devastating forcefield. The leader of organized crime in China wears a cape and iron mask. Men sport God-given names like Dragon, Tiger and(wait for it...) Turbo. The tougher you are, the bigger your flare jeans are at the bottom and the tinier your pastel colored tank top is. Most importantly though, it's much better to fight with huge bangs constantly covering your eyes. Welcome to the world of Dragon Tiger Gate, where that guy you accidentally just hit on because you thought it was a girl from behind... could kill you with one blow(punch that is folks... let's keep it clean here!). Everything I just wrote above is A) completely true, and B) had me feeling that this movie couldn't possibly offer anything that I would actually enjoy watching for 90 or so minutes. Well, thanks to excellent choreography by star Donnie Yen and ultra stylish direction from Wilson Yip(and the ability to put my brain on cruise control) the movie defiantly proved to be a good time. Dragon Tiger Gate tells the story of two brothers who were seperated as youngsters due to divorce and the Gate, a martial arts academy that their father co-founded. As they got older, Dragon(played by Yen) ended up on the wrong side of justice, while younger brother Tiger(played by Nicholas Tse) stayed true to the moral fortitude taught to him. A chance encounter in a restaurant between the two after many years, sets things in motion for the rest of the film. Based on a Chinese comic book, the movie, it's characters, and the plot will most likely leave viewers less versed in Asian cinema scratching their heads. Still, if you like martial arts action then the movie should provide the goods... even if you don't completely comprehend the "why's" and "how's" of the proceedings. The action itself really is very good, and offers a nice mix of more grounded fighting(including an awesome scene with Donnie using a bo against a three-section-staff and sai wielding pair of assassins) as well as some more over the top and special effects laden moments(the finale mostly). The movie seems to be unfairly judged against director Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen's previous pairing SPL(aka Killzone here in the States). True, this movie is far different in style and tone then that previous effort but I can't fault them for trying something unique and different... besides(and most importantly) they still deliver plenty of great action(no single fight compares to either Yen's battles with Wu Jing or Sammo Hung in SPL, however; overall their is more action in this film). If you like action and can get by the overly stylized presentation, Dragon Tiger Gate isn't quite required viewing but is still more than worth a try. Thankfully, Tai Seng has provided a very nice 2-disc special edition of the film that features a crisp and clear widescreen presentation as well as an English dub track and/or clean, visible subtitles(technically speaking, one of Tai Sengs best releases). If nothing else, watching Dragon Tiger Gate will at least make you rethink poking fun at the guy who just got his hair frosted at the beauty salon... he may just spin kick you through a wall(but I'll still take that chance and mock him)."
Should be titled "DRAGON TIGER COOL"...or "The best looking
Woopak | Where Dark Asian Knights Dwell | 10/04/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"DRAGON TIGER GATE is the 2nd collaboration of the Wilson Yip-Donnie Yen tag team (The 3rd being "Flashpoint" in 2007). After the huge success of SPL(2005)(aka. Killzone), they reunite in 2006 to adapt the comic book (manga) "Dragon Gate Heroes". I haven't read the comic so I can only comment on the film based on how it was made and its entertainment value.
Synopsis partially derived from DVD back cover (Deltamac) Tiger Wong (Nicholas Tse) unwittingly takes Lousha Death Plaque, a token decreed by the leader of the Lousha Gate, Shibumi, hence is ambushed by triad gangs. As fate has it, Dragon Wong (Donnie Yen), a bodyguard works for a triad boss, saves Tiger and discovers that Tiger is his brother. A wandering young man, Turbo Shek (Shawn Yue), who plays with nunchakus, meanwhile, befriends the brothers in the fierce fight. In the super power showdown and endless killings in the Jiang Hu, only these three back street boys can fight for justice in the community.
Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen once again proves that they have the savvy when it comes to shooting fight scenes. Sure, wires, CGI and even trampolines were used, but the fight sequences are nicely shot with the near-excellent CGI-enhanced set designs and superb camera positioning that takes you right in the action. The film is adapted from a comic, so expect the usual righteous concepts, hard-hitting stylized martial arts with a touch of mysticism and very "cool" posturing (from Donnie Yen, mostly). There are plenty of extended action sequences; highlights include a very nicely shot fight scene in a Japanese restaurant where goons get tossed towards the camera. Sure, choreography is a bit exaggerated and is a step backward from the intense fights of SPL, it is based on a comic book so expect reality to take a back seat. There is a lot of power-to-pose with Donnie Yen wailing his arms, with wind blowing his hair to look "cool". Donnie is being "Donnie" with his coolness. (I suppose). The lasting impression is how "COOL" Dragon looks, what can we say, the actor likes to look good.
The main weakness of the screenplay I suppose is that when there are no fights, it stops to a crawl. There are a lot of characters in the film, but the real interesting ones seemed to have gone unnoticed. Renowned actor Yuen Wah plays Wong Jianglong, the master of the "Dragon Gates" seemed to be underused; his encounter with Shibumi seemed a bit rushed and lacked emotional impact. There was a great opportunity to expand with a "sensei-student" subplot with Turbo's (Shawn Yue) cocky and pretentious character, when they agreed to spar and if Turbo proves his worth, Wong would teach him. Wong effortlessly humbled him with a slipper. Tiger and Turbo's beginning friendship should have been developed more also. (Their playful sparring pitched some depth) Rosa (Beautiful Li Xiao-ran)and Ma Xiaoling (Dong Gie) serve as lovely eye-candy as well as love interests for Dragon and Tiger respectively. The tragic love story between Rosa and Dragon are a nice touch and Ma Xiaoling's efforts to convince a master to heal Tiger's wounds express a lot of desperation and hopelessness that brighten the film's premise.
The final fight may be visually nice and entertaining, but the masked villain Shibumi seemed underwhelming. Sure, he can knock around wooden pillars and oversized punching bags, but the actor was a bit unconvincing with his stiff moves. I'm sure the director had to rely on camera trickery with his fight sequences. Also, the storyline with Shibumi just wasn't very immersive or interesting; I guess he wasn't "bad" enough. The over-reaching plot and the usual canned emotion hamper the film's pace. Flashbacks may explain a lot but it feels pretty routine. I guess the motivation behind "Dragon Tiger Gate" is to deliver visually stunning fight sequences and on this note it does succeed!
I own the 2-disc Hong Kong release from Deltamac. The U.S. release I've heard is coming from Tai Seng. Keep your fingers crossed, Tai Seng usually bring mediocre dvd quality, hopefully this release will at least be on par with its re-mastered edition of "Initial D". VIDEO/AUDIO: 2.35 Anamorhic Widescreen. Exceptional transfer from Deltamac! Sharp, crisp and clean with radiant colors and solid black levels. 5.1 Dolby/DTS-ES Cantonese track with English subs are very good. If you're equipped, utilize the DTS track, it is the way to go!
Final remarks: Unfortunately, I cannot judge whether this film adaptation is faithful to its roots. I'm pretty sure that "Dragon Tiger Gate" will find an international audience, even those unfamiliar with the comic book. The film may be far from perfect, but the CGI-enhanced martial arts did do a BETTER job than most Hollywood releases. The Wilson Yip/Donnie Yen team once again proves that action is what they do best. Despite the occasional Donnie screen hubris and the occasional overlong drama between fights, the film does deliver a LOT of powerful kicks and punches complete with bone-crushing impact! At least, they know what their followers want. RECOMMENDED! For action/martial arts junkies...(4 stars)
Very Entertaining Hong Kong Martial Arts Action
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 04/16/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Director Wilson Yip and martial action star Donnie Yen join forces again after their successful "Kill Zone" (also known as "SPL") for "Dragon Tiger Gate" based on the popular Hong-Kong comic books. Someone looking for the same things as "Kill Zone" would be disappointed for the new film does not try to hide the origin of its source materials, so the actions get less intense and the film's tone could hardly be called noir. Still "Dragon Tiger Gate" is hugely entertaining action film with such capable cast as Donnie Yen, Nicholas Tse, Shawn Yue and Jie Dong. Also great are the supporting actors including Kuan Tai Chen, veteran of Hong-Kong film industry since the days of Shaw Brothers in the 1970s.
I haven't read the original comics, but it is obvious that the story is condensed for film adaptation. The story about the two brothers Dragon Wong (Donnie Yen) and Tiger Wong (Nicholas Tse) is confusing at first, but please wait for the actions to begin, and once they start, the film certainly delivers.
Don't take anything too seriously here. The mayhems in restaurant with long-haired Donnie Yen and Nicholas Tse battling the combatants of the crime syndicate are made for pure entertainment. Shawn Yue is Turbo Shek, wandering fighter wielding a pair of nunchaku. You'll see a dinner table flying like a saucer, a huge sandbag (actually, the biggest one in the world) dropping from up above, and our heroes high-kicking the villains without touching the ground, but all of them are meant to be like that, just to be enjoyed. The film also benefits from the rousing score by Kenji Kawai (Mamoru Oshii's "Innocence").
The film's middle section slows down, and as always, female roles are not the most impressive ones in "Dragon Tiger Gate." Even Jie Dong who was so good in "Happy Times" is not required to do much, and neither is beautiful Xiao Ran Li.
"Dragon Tiger Gate" is not only an answer to Hollywood which produced "Matrix" series or its trendy comic book adaptation; it is also a unique blend of Donnie Yen's martial arts skills, Wilson Yip's stylish camera works and above-average special effects. Enjoy it."
Nutritious as a bag of chips - and equally tasty
ShriDurga | 07/02/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Dragon Tiger Gate goes down easy. It doesn't ask a lot (except in the middle) and delivers a pleasing visual aesthetic and plenty of action.
Here we have all the features of a typical Hong Kong martial arts film: a school of Kung Fu caught up in the feuding between rival clans of gangsters, a conflicted lead with a true heart, an emphasis on action, and only the most rudimentary elements of plot, character, or theme. The middle section plods along wearily connecting the dots of the story, but really, no one is watching this for the romance or the drama, and that's just as well because the script and the acting don't manage to evoke even a hint of empathy for its characters.
Where the film shines is in its sets, costuming, direction, and choreography. There's probably not much here that hasn't been done before, except perhaps for the bird's eye view of a three-room fight, with the camera panning back and forth across the rooms and down the hallway, and in making the head gangster of Hong Kong a comic-book villain in a cape and mask who lives in castle-like fortress with suitably moody lighting. The leads are coiffed and dressed in the androgynous style popular across East Asia, and hang out in trendy looking homes and neighborhoods.
See this one with your brain turned off, a beer in one hand, and the remote (for skipping through the middle chapters) in the other.
Donnie At His Best!!! Great Martial Artist & Action Choreogr
EQ (CA) | 11/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a superb martial arts movie with a mix of modern day artistry and traditional settings. It certainly is Donnie Yen's best work I have seen so far. He is truly an action choreographer extraordinaire as it takes a lot of skill and talent to train two actors (Nicholas Tse and Shawn Yue) with no martial arts background to become action stars. A must see movie for all martial arts fans like me! The martial arts skills, stunts, special effects, with a matrix spin on it are just breath taking. The choice of the background music is great too! Even though the characters are based on a comic book, the story line has a traditional Chinese spin to it, with a deep meaning, which helps tie the movie together through the end. Nicolas Tse (aka the tiger) and Shawn Yue (aka turbo leopard) are great pics to compliment Donnie and the best part is where Donnie Yen (aka the dragon) came to the rescue at the end...you will have to watch it to find out how Donnie finished it in style. I like this movie better than SPL as Donnie gets to shine as the main star and action director. Donnie deserves all the credit this time in this movie, with his skillful and talented display of martial arts and his excellent action choreography. Hope there is more to come..."