Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is the best looking 3D movie I have ever seen and while I don’t like 3D and think it’s a gimmick the Director Tsui Hark makes good use of the effect. With that said I still think that it has no impact on the overall enjoyment of the film nor does it change my feelings about the story. But on a purely 3D level it is a step above the rest. It’s better than ‘Avatar’. The only other 3D movie that moderately impressed me was ‘Tron Legacy’. The worst 3D movie I have ever seen was ‘Battle Royale 3D’ with cgi bullets and blood spatters. Awful. The post conversion 3D of Harry Potter and any other number of movies is frankly dull and adds nothing to the movie except to make it look darker and after a while I found my eyes adjusted to the use of 3D anyway. I got more annoyed by having to wear the 3D glasses through the entire movie. Now we have ‘Star Wars The Phantom Menace’ coming out in 3D this year (what genius..) and JJ Abrams has announced that the next Star Trek movie will be filmed in 2D and converted to 3D, which sucks, but I imagine that there might have been studio pressure to do that. I am both equally dismayed and attracted by the idea of seeing Space ships fly out of the movie screen but I doubt it will be as good as I could imagine.
Tsui Hark makes clever use of 3D by not making everything 3D just because it’s close to the screen but when we get a beautiful shot or big action scenes the 3D comes into effect making it very noticeable to the viewer. He doesn’t rely on the cheap tricks of having swords come out of the screen at the audience ala ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 4′ (you suck). He seems to use a deep focus shot in 3D. Rather than having objects come out of the screen he has the foreground of the image layered thus making anything coming from the background of the image to the front have a lot more depth to it. If that makes no sense then let me just say “it’s different”.
I’m kinda excited that the 3D worked for once to impress me and I’m excited that it happened here in Hong Kong. It’s perfect for a movie like this that has WuXia action. Tsui Hark had ‘Avatar’s visual-effects supervisor, Chuck Comisky come onboard to work on this movie so no expense was spared here and it might hint at how good the 3D will get for the proposed ‘Avatar’ sequel.
Unfortunately Cinema goers in Hong Kong don’t have the choice of watching a 3D film in 2D. Everything that is filmed or converted to 3D is released in 3D only. The audience has no choice but to pay more to watch a film with this effect. The last 3D movie I watched before this was TinTin and I thought the 3D of that movie was really pointless to the point I didn’t even realize I was watching 3D anymore. A customer should only pay for what they want. They don’t have a choice as to how good or bad the movie will be but they should at least be able to choose how they see it. With 3D we are getting a weird perspective sometimes with the front of objects looking out of proportion and bigger than the rest of it. Hollywood calls 3D as “Cardboarding”and until it goes beyond that and until we don’t need to wear glasses to see it I’d rather not watch everything in 3D.
So the film itself? It’s good. Tsui Hark said it’s not a remake but more of a reimagining of the 92 version but there are some elements that seem to make this a sequel. There is little chemistry between the cast but the acting is impressive. Taiwanese actress Gwai Lun Mei has a stand out performance and is utterly seductive onscreen.
Favorite Quote: “Better to live in the Jianghu World than the real world”. – Chow Wai On