FT Top 100 Films

Martin Skidmore says: I mentioned director Tsui Hark in my review of Crouching Tiger a week or so back. I’ve seen, and loved, only a tenth of his films – there’s a recent sequel to this that I’ve not yet seen. He mostly works in the bonkers end of the fantasy martial arts spectrum, as far as I know, and that is about the most undervalued genre in the movie world, in my view. This is the movie that made him a star, and quite right too. It’s an astonishing film, full of ideas, with lots of scenes like nothing else I’ve ever seen. The swordfights are as good as any you’ll ever see, there is some serious thematic content if you want that (about war), there is wild fantasy with characters fighting with stretchy eyebrows and plenty of flying (this was the film that fused American special effects, hiring top techies from Star Wars and Tron, with Hong Kong movie traditions), there is the Brigitte Lin and (in two roles) Sammo Hung, both in their primes.

The narrative isn’t terribly coherent and organised (Hark was angry at the editing), and it’s a pretty silly film, but I find that extremely easy to forgive in a film as visually thrilling as this.

Apparently there is a dubbed version with a frame that turns the main story into a dream sequence, and with far less of the action, so see the subtitled one instead.