Seen Wednesday, 12 November 2003, at Allston/Bombay Cinema (Weekly Wednesday Ass-Kicking series)
* * * (out of four)
Despite what the three-star rating would seem to indicate, Dragon Fight is not really a good movie. In fact, it is decidedly sub-par in almost every area other than fight choreography - which is, in fact, rather impressive. Jet Li and his sparring partners do a nice job without much (if any) wire work.
This movie does gain a certain amount of camp appeal, though, by sheer dint of how hard it tries. It must have been a considerable expense (relative to the genre) for a Hong Kong martial arts movie to shoot in San Francisco, even closing off streets to stage some vehicular mayhem. But while great attention is being paid to detail and craft in some areas, the movie is terribly sloppy in others. Characters speaking English invariable sound ridiculous; I had to rely on subtitles to understand what some of the Chinese Triad bosses were saying. But even the white and African-American characters sounded awful. The producers must have hired people they found on the street, or perhaps the director just kept screaming for a more "intense" performance, whether it matched what real people sounded like or not.
I enjoyed it because, he, Jet Li can kick some ass, and it was a good (if small) crowd, which had been softened up by trailers for Taoism Drunkard and stuff like The Gravy Train. In another environment, though, the cheesy production might have been annoying rather than oddly charming.