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Flying Swords of Dragon Gate

MPAA Rating: R for some violence.
not reviewed
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Action Adventure Epric Drama IMAX 3D
2 hr. 1 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
August 31, 2012 (IMAX)
DVD: October 2, 2012
Copyright, IMAX click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, IMAX Copyright, IMAX Copyright, IMAX Copyright, IMAX Copyright, IMAX Copyright, IMAX Copyright, IMAX Copyright, IMAX
Relevant Issues
Copyright, IMAX

evil eunuchs

secret police—the Gestapo of their day—ruthless, supremely powerful and accountable to no-one but their own shadowy masters

Emperor’s concubines


patriotic resistance to government corruption

buried treasure

bandits / robbery

Featuring: Jet LiChow Wai On
Xun Zhou … Jade
Kun Chen … Yu Hua Tian
Lunmei Kwai … Tribal Princess
Yuchun Li … Gu Shaotang
Mavis Fan … Su Huirong
Siu-Wong Fan … Ma Jinliang
Chia Hui Liu … Wan Yulou
Chien Sheng
Director: Hark Tsui
Producer: Beijing Liangzi Group
Beijing Poly-bona Film Publishing Company
more »
Distributor: IMAX

“The ultimate warrior. His greatest war.”

Copyrighted, IMAX

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “‘Flying Swords of Dragon Gate’ is the first Chinese-language film to be released in the IMAX® 3D format and the fourth-highest grossing Chinese-language film of all time.

Something is rotten in the court of the Ming Emperor. The court eunuchs have used their power as civil servants to create their own secret police, utterly ruthless, supremely powerful and accountable to no-one but their own shadowy masters. There are two rival factions, the East Chamber and the West Chamber. The valiant fighter Zhao, a former general who was stripped of his rank by the eunuchs, leads a patriotic resistance against these villains, the Gestapo of their day.

When one of the Emperor’s concubines sets out to become the only woman who will bear the Emperor an heir, she conspires with the eunuchs of the Western Chamber to have all other pregnant concubines assassinated. But one pregnant girl escapes. The eunuchs track her to a huge riverboat and are about to put her to the sword when she is rescued by Zhao—or is it someone pretending to be Zhao?

Both sides converge on Dragon Inn, an isolated way-station in the great desert of the West, close to the border of the empire. The inn has a long history as a center for patriotic resistance to the corruption of the court. Zhao and his allies—plus the rescued pregnant girl—come to the inn and form an allegiance with its owner Jade and her staff. As the deadly forces of the Western Chamber bear down on the inn to put an end to Zhao’s rebellion, matters are complicated by the arrival of a gang of Tartar bandits who have caught scent of some treasure rumored to be hidden in or buried under the inn. The three-way confrontation produces some startling cat-and-mouse games … and several big surprises.

Near the inn, though, stand two great stones known as the Dragon Gate. They are a portal to a lost city, a great citadel built by an earlier civilization, now buried under the endless desert sands. It’s said that once every sixty years a massive tornado will come and swirl the sands away to reveal the contours of the lost city and bring its hidden riches to light. And as the tensions between the patriots, the eunuchs and the bandits reach boiling point, the ‘black sandstorm’ tornado shows up right on cue …

This movie has been digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience® with IMAX DMR® technology. The crystal-clear images coupled with IMAX’s customized theatre geometry and powerful digital audio create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie.”

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Movie Critics

“…a thrill ride… ‘Flying Swords’ hits the mark in 3-D…”
—James Verniere, The Boston Herald

“…While the attractive performers and the action set pieces, including fights inside a sand tornado and around a spider’s web of razor wire, are enough to carry you through the film, ‘Flying Swords’ is a bit of a letdown after Mr. Tsui’s ‘Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame’ last year. …”
—Mike Hale, The New York Times

“…a flair for exhilaratingly showy filmmaking… a film that offers a great deal, saturated with characters, plotlines, and, above all, set pieces, but it never seems overstuffed. Even when things don't quite work, as in the occasional convolutions of the narrative, the movie feels generous, the result of a decision on Hark's part to err on the side of offering the viewer too much rather than too little. …”
—Andrew Schenker, Slant Magazine

“…The first Chinese martial-arts film in 3D… The performances root the craziness in real emotion, especially those of the women. And [Director] Hark orchestrates it all with sly formal acuity…”
—Peter Keough, The Boston Phoenix

“…such a wantonly incomprehensible experience that it occasionally feels like an epic piece of outsider art… Flying Swords is too sadistic an experience to enjoy repeat business. …”
—David Ehrlich, Boxoffice Magazine

“…the plot is secondary. “Flying Swords” is to be seen for its eye-popping action. …”
—V.A. Musetto, New York Post

“…Props to Jet Li, though, for having apparently discovered the fountain of youth some time ago. His moves are as magically fluid as they ever were, and he commands the screen even when all around him is noisy CGI overkill. …”
—Marc Savlov, The Austin Chronicle

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