Dragon Tiger Gate was founded by two Kung Fu Masters Wong Jiang Long & Wong Fuhu. They promoted self-strengthening, to free people from oppression, they even taught Martial Arts to Street Urchins. The Gate thus became the symbol of Justice with every youth eager to join the Gate… but when Wong Fuhu`s son, Dragon, decides to leave with his baby brother, Tiger, this would set off a chain of events. With the handing over of the Lotus Plaque to Luosha Gang from Shibumi, as a reward for their good work, Dragon and Tiger must reunite to take on the evil Shibumi, with help from their newfound friend Turbo.
While this is based on a comic book series, there is a sense of realism here from the 70s style clothing and haircuts to the old school traditional throwback to 70s Kung Fu films for the fight scenes and the story. From Turbo waiting outside the gate to be excepted, by Master Wong Jianglong played by, the always watchable Yuen Wah. To the main Villain taking down a school sign and challenging the Master. As we have said this is old school and Shibumi wants to challenge and beat the best Kung Fu experts. These come from the Gate
Its not all about the action, we have beautifully written characters here, that have depth and are taken on an emotional journey. This is aided using flashbacks, which sheds light on the brother’s past. People searching for their place in this world, self-sacrifice to help others. Tied together with a theme of family, loyalty, and brotherhood. However this is still a Kung Fu adventure film and there is spectacle galore, with some very elaborate fight, set pieces…
We are first introduced to Tiger the fighter, in the opening of the film. As the rival gang White Lions, meet with Luosha Gang to express their anger as to why the Plaque has been awarded to them again. In the heat of the meeting with all the confusion one of Tiger's friends ends up taking the plague. A battle with the Luosha Gang ensues, Tiger is unstoppable, until Dragon steps in. Nicholas Tse pulls of an amazing range of kicking techniques this display in on par with Yuen Biao. We feel that Tse has an everyman quality and likability that he brings to every role. We are quickly led into a fight scene at a sushi bar, which is large on scale but small on space, the sheer number of people involved in a confined setting makes this an amazing feat of coordination. There are very traditional wirework elements which work well within the comic book theme, with some inventive camera work which lets us see what the original comic panels may have looked like. We are treated to an explosive end to act 2, with a big lead up to a no hold barred fight at a baseball field. For us this is the best scene in the film, due to it throwing in every aspect you could want from a fight scene. Each opponent that Donnie`s Dragon faces, has a different weapon and style it is a rare treat to see such weapons display within a modern film. This scene is certainly the most traditional out of the fight scenes and is lit in a way that is simple but effective. Our next fight set piece, is at the Gate this is the first time that we see Shibumi fight. The school sigh being taken down to the beating of the students sets up to a training montage very reminiscent of classic Shaw Brother films. Now with Dragon, Tiger and Turbo, going back to the path, they should be on they're ready for the final battle with Siibumi, with each character having their own special move. There is a video game look and feel to this final fight with the big boss and the finale as with the whole film, is shot very cleverly with a mix of practical and CGI effects, you will be hard tasked to tell the difference.
To get more of a feel for the film and to write here we watched the making off feature on our blu ray and we can thoroughly recommend it. So insightful from all the crew that brought this to the big screen. Donnie Yen speaks about creating choreography that brings both spectacle but is grounded, we learn that he trained Nicholas Tse and Shawn Yue for 3 months for the making of the film. It is unbelievable that both actors are not Martial Artists this really does show the commitment, that all brought to set and for the making of Dragon Tiger Gate. Director Wilson Yip talks about making a series of sequels, in the making off feature and it is incredibly sad that this has not come to fruition.