You were at the beach. You were visiting relatives. You had friends over for one, last barbecue. You were scrubbing down the altar for the midnight sacrifice to the Great Old Ones (special for Providence only). Whatever you were doing, it was something you felt was more important than being in the theater this past Labor Day weekend.
And why not? While nowhere near a transcendent filmgoing experience, director Ole Bornedal’s dip into THE EXORCIST well, THE POSSESSION, mustered up enough atmosphere, dramatic tension, and credible performances — including Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick as divorced parents trying to cope with a young daughter infested with an evil demon — to merit it more attention than is usually given to films shoveled into the traditional Labor Day dumping bin. Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski and Dan Persons take a few minutes to explore the film’s assorted pleasures and discuss the elements that made it a candidate for summary dismissal. Then Dan gives his capsule opinion of Tsui Hark’s Imax 3D spectacular, FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON GATE and runs down what’s coming the theaters next week.
FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON GATE is the first Tsui Hark film to be shot in Imax 3D, starring Jet Li. Okay, stop salivating and sit back down, we’ve got work to do.
Granted, your enthusiasm is understandable. Hark — master of such deliriously epic action films as PEKING OPERA BLUES and ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA — came roaring back to prominence last year with DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME, and now returns with an ambitious adventure that’s actually a continuation of a film series that started in 1967, about a desert inn where both the noble and the infamous rub elbows and clash swords. In addition to all the expected Hark trappings, such as inventive battle scenes, sharp comedy, and women characters who can stand their own against their male counterparts — including a mysterious swordswoman, played by Zhou Xun, and a lusty barbarian princess, played by Lunmei Kwai (because would you want any other kind?) — the increased palette of China’s first Imax 3D film gives the director a whole new way to mess with your mind. Trust me, Hark takes generous advantage of the opportunity.
This is Hark’s return to MIGHTY MOVIE PODCAST, and we’re glad to have him back; less glad that it had to be via a not-quite-Dolby-grade phone connection. We’ve done our best to smooth out the audio — hopefully you’ll find the discussion well-worth the effort.