This self-orientalizing piece of crap has a few good moments. Since they are few and far between, we’ll just tell you what they are.
Li Bing Bing plays the white-haired witch, and has the best lines in the movie, like “all men are liars” (this line rendered in Chinese, as 天下男人都是騙子), and, as a retort to Liu Yifei’s “I should have killed you, witch” Li Bingbing says something like “I’ll kill you first, bitch!”. We was like “oh shiznit, this movie getting PG-13 all of a sudden!” Li Bingbing also uses her long white hair as a weapon, which is kinda cool.
As for Jackie Chan and Jet Li, well, Jet Li’s English still blows and Jackie Chan’s schtick is amazingly bereft of any originality or inspiration, and we say that because his schtick was actually tolerable back in the 1980s and even through much of the 1990s.
As some might know, his “drunken monk” character is a pale reprisal of his Drunken Master characters. Drunken Master we’ve only seen once, but thought it decent, and Drunken Master II we’ve seen about five times, and would not hesitate to watch again.
But there’s a huge difference when you’re trying to ham it up for the foreign audiences. Take the scene where Jackie meets Jet Li’s character.
Jackie: So where you from? Shandong province? You like the Shandong type. (Jet Li doesn’t reply)
Jackie: So, do you come here often?
You really have to see it to understand how excruciatingly bad this is.
Some other terrible aspects of the movie are the overuse of “jade”, “emperor,” “warlord,” “sparrow,” and other such tropes. The acting sucked across the board, but the fight scenes were ok, even though we, and everyone else on the planet, should really demand that wire-fu be stopped until someone can do something original with it. It’s still a joy watching Jet Li and Jackie Chan move; but that’s something inherent in the aesthetics of kung-fu, which Jet Li and Jackie Chan just happened to “inhabit” at certain times and in certain scenes in this movie.
There were some amusing subtitle botches: when Jackie says “if I don’t drink I will perish,” the Chinese subtitles read “If I cannot get water I will drink my piss,” and the scene, or at least the subtitles, keep playing on the “piss” joke. We wonder if it was an honest mistake, since “perish” can sound like “piss”, especially to someone that might have failed the Level 4 English exams. On the other hand, maybe the subtitlers were just taking the piss out of exasperation. Who knows.
Your time would be better spent masturbating, that is, if you were willing to masturbate for 94 minutes!
Cross-posted at China Film Journal