In the view of Film Business Asia‘s Derek Elley, Jiang Wen‘s Let the Bullets Fly (Variance, 3.2) is “a richly entertaining Oriental Western anchored by a well-honed, ironic script and terrific performances.” The trailer tells me otherwise. It tells me it’ll be agony, and that the only way I’ll stay to the closing credits is if I’m strapped to a theatre seat with Clockwork Orange eyelid-clamps, etc.
Who would’ve suspected that a single shot from a rifle could not only derail a large train car being pulled by a team of horses along a train track, but cause it to flip over end to end? The script of Let The Bullets Fly reportedly went through 30 drafts before Jiang Wen was happy with it, and he goes with a ludicrous action gag like this?
This, in a nutshell, is why I despise Asian action cinema, and why I’m completely at peace with never watching any Asian action film ever again.
I’m also telling you that critics who do giddy cartwheels over this kind of flamboyant, self-satirizing, high-style Asian grindhouse fare cannot be trusted. I know a lot of these guys and have heard that many have taken part in a secret annual Asian Film Society ceremony and sworn obedience to the rule, ratified in the early ’90s, that almost all Asian action cinema gets a pass for its vitality and verve. If you aspire to be a member in good standing of the Brotherhood of Dweeb, you WILL give films like this a stamp of approval and you will DEFINITELY NOT say stuff like I’m saying here. If you don’t, you’ll have to deal with a lot of disapproval and God knows what else.
Let the Bullets Fly opened in in China in December 2010 “and grossed 730 million yuan ($111.1 million US) in box office, becoming the highest grossing domestic film in China’s cinematic history,” says the Wiki page.
“Set in China during the warring 1920s, the bandit ‘Pocky’ Zhang Mazi (Jiang Wen) and the other bandits ambush a con artist (Ge You) who is posing as the Governor Ma Bangde with his wife. Zhang then proceeds to Goosetown taking Tang’s place as the local governor. Tang becomes his counselor, while Tang’s wife poses as Zhang’s wife. Zhang’s aim at this position is opposed by local mobster Master Huang (Chow Yun Fat) who lives in his fortified citadel overlooking the town,” blah blah crap crap.