There is extreme brutality and violence, in this super-exciting fusion of guns and swords. It's rare to successfully mix Oriental and Western fantasy. I don't remember live-action fantasy martial arts so impressively-executed (the ones that come close are Kung Fu Hustle and House Of Flying Daggers). The costume design is amazing, for both West and East. The final battle is exhilarating. Shit, I wish I had words to describe it. Did you check the ninjas? The sound?

The movie's best performance was the head of the ninjas, while Geoffrey Rush's was just business as usual (nothing challenging for him here, nor was it required). The gal is okay, and not as annoying as she could have been.

The minor complaints I have is the unimpressive cowboy villain, and the not-lethal-enough look of the lead (where's Jet Li when you need him?). I would also have preffered a less polished feel of the camerawork (it feels too sanitised, too fantasy-like).


sidenotes:

  • I was again wondering if there was something wrong with considering the generally negative critical reception of the movie. Maybe they are the ones who have problems. Were we watching the same movie? Perhaps I will understand on a revisit.
  • I read a quality review that does a good job of justifying its negative conclusion.
  • I am worried that this is another Case of The Matrix Reloaded.

update:

This is indeed another Case of The Matrix Reloaded. It is far less impressive than on first viewing, but I still love the fantasy-like fight sequences of the ninjas, but most especially, their characterisation (they look as menacing as fuck). The part of the story where the lead character gets to meet a gal and exercise a more relaxed life is boring and not too well done. It reminds me of a similar kinda thing in Fearless, where Jet Li's character goes to chill in a farm. As if that's not enough, both the lead character and the Amercian villain are unconvincing, while the movie's best performance is that of the guy playing head of the ninjas.