As a film considered the ordinary way, this is ordinary. It has a common framing device that folds the narrative: a wimpy kid rents lots of Kung Fu movies. Then he enters those movies which here are conflated with dreams. Pretty ordinary by recent standards. He is amazingly unattractive with the worst skin you will see on the big screen.
But the good thing is the compound choreography. I understand that this is the first Chan film that he has not choreographed. That’s a good thing because this time the character choreography is coordinated with the camera choreography. And the cinematographer knew what he was doing.
So as with “Crouching Tiger”, we as observers are often involved in the fight as if we were participating as fighters. It is a sort of fold, a trick to put us in the narrative (such as fights can be narrative) and have us invest in the thing. It is less beautiful and graceful than we’ve seen him do before. I suppose that’s because some of the (comparative) lack of energy from these two aging athletes has to be picked up by a more energetic camera. It is a reasonable tradeoff.
I find effects that are not noticeable to be remarkable these days. Sure there are some effects that are not supposed to look real because they represent supernatural events. Even though the story is a mess because of many hands, the art design is amazingly coherent.
Posted in 2008
Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.