We gave it an A
After rapturous back to back receptions for his dramas ”Sense and Sensibility” (1995) and ”The Ice Storm” (1997), Taiwanese director Lee got lukewarm notices for last year’s Civil War tale ”Ride With the Devil.” But he wowed Cannes with this $15 million action romance that pits a battle weary master (Chow) against a female rebel (Zhang) and builds to a series of kickapalooza fights. As choreographed by the ”Matrix”’s Yuen Wo Ping, combatants leap tall buildings in single bounds, run up walls, and hop through tree branches.
How’d they do it? Thick wires and harnesses, later digitally erased, allowed grander trajectories than seen in most Hong Kong flicks. While perfectionist Lee wished he could ”do some shots again,” he wouldn’t change his decision not to dub or shoot the actors in English. ”It would be more profitable,” he concedes. ”And I was given a lot of advice to do that. But to me, there’s a personal meaning to the language. Doing a martial arts movie in English would be like John Wayne speaking Chinese in a Western.”
GOOD SIGN Sony Pictures Classics says it plans a big promotional push aimed at ”the MTV generation.” THEN AGAIN The Tom Green set doesn’t usually flip for subtitled films.