Country: Hong Kong
AKA: New Dragon Inn, New Dragon Gate Inn
Director: Raymond Lee Wai-Meng
Producer: Tso Ging-man, Ng Chi-Ming, Chan Chun, Tsui Hark (executive)
Writer: Tsui Hark, Cheung Than, Hiu Mor
Action Director: Ching Siu-Tung, Yuen Bun, Cheung Yu-Sing
Cast: Brigitte Lin, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Donnie Yen, Hung Yan-yan, Yuen Bun, Ng Kai-wah, Lan Tun, Yam Sai-Kwoon, Yuen Cheung-Yan
Running Time: 88/99 min.
Plot: The East Chamber eunuchs (you know, guys with their goodies cut off) rule China from behind the scenes. Tsao Siu Yan (Donnie Yen), the biggest and baddest eunuch of them all, executes a rebellious military commander and then uses his children to lure his friend Chow Wai-on (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) into a trap. Chow is assisted byYau Mo-yan (Brigitte Lin) and some hired fighters and they succeed in snatching the kids from under Tsao’s nose. The heroes and Tsao’s forces collide in the Dragon Inn, run by the duplicitous Jade (Maggie Cheung), and a desperate battle ensues. A remake of the 1966 film Dragon Inn (a.k.a. Dragon Gate Inn, a.k.a. Green Dragon Inn).
The New Dragon Inn is produced by Tsui Hark, whose approach to King Hu’s original is a real reinterpretation of the earlier masterpiece. Hark has always revered Hu, speaking fervently of his genius and even attempting to employ him as the director of Swordsman (Hu walked off the set when Tsui proved too controlling a producer for his tastes), but his view of life is far too pessimistic to approximate Hu’s humanistic optimism. So this remake apes the name and plot but adds another character (Maggie Cheung’s delicious inkeeper, thought by some to be lifted from Hu’s short film Anger), a healthy amount of blood and gore, rampant flying people, and a chaotic negativity that always leaves me spent at the end of this movie.
Still, if you love flying people movies, like I do, and if you appreciate the dynamic acting talents of Tony Leung Kar Fei, Maggie Cheung, and the great screen goddess, Brigitte Lin, the way I do, then this movie is wild, rolicking excitement. The music is loud, the action is so fast it’s often hard to follow (plus if you’re watching on good old videotape, it’s impossible to tell which characters get electrocuted on the roof in one scene, or to tell which villain is which throughout the movie), and the characters kick ass in the most stylish ways possible. It also features a great duel between Brigitte and Maggie where they try to snatch each others clothes off-something we would never have seen in King Hu’s original film.