Dragon Tiger Gate
Directed by Wilson Yip
Produced by Nansun Shi, Yu Dong and Xu Pengle
Starring: Donnie Yen, Nicholas Tse and Shawn Yue
Well, today I decided to sit down and watch a movie, and I found my old dvd of Dragon Tiger Gate. I’m writing this while the movie is playing and will pause at the fight scenes.
Well the movie has three protagonists;
Dragon Wong the wing chun dude. He only uses his arms and elbows, except using his knees once I think. He currently works for some gangster boss
Tiger Wong the TKD dude. He never punches, never keeps his arms up and loves those spinning kicks .He currently trains under his uncle Master Wong, in the shaolin temple like “Dragon Tiger Gate”. And yes, Dragon and Tiger are siblings.
And last, but not least, Turbo Shek, the nunchuck dude. And yes, he only uses his nunchucks, except for one judo throw. He’s on a visit from America, and his ambition is to unite all kung fu schools into one, or something similar.
After having read the descriptions of the protagonists, you might have come to the odd conclusion that this movie will not be realistic. YER DAMN RIGHT, but it is incredibly cool.
Well first I’ll get the story out of the way: Dragon and Tiger are long lost brothers but don’t realize it until after fight 2, they meet Turbo by chance. Turbo wants to join the DTG temple, but is refused. After a day or two he’s accepted, Dragon and Tiger have now talked together and are glad they’ve met, and everything is perfect. Then some evil dude kills Dragon and Tiger’s uncle, the dude Dragon works for gets killed by one of his own men (who defects), they all go and search for t3h d34dly so that they can beat evil dude. But seriously who watches martial arts movies for story? ( except if it’s Jackie Chan or Jet Li)
Onto the fights:
Fight one happens in a restaurant. Three thugs are attacking a normal family, and Tiger is there to beat the crap outta them. One thing leads to another, and he gets a whole gang of gangsters to fight. Alone. With his TKD. It might sound boring, but it’s totally frikkin awesome. This fight was the reason I stayed I almost stayed in TKD.
Well, after beating the crap outta some thugs with every kick ranging from axe kick to a jumping spinning back kick. Then Dragon comes along, and you see a short fight between brothers before the gangster boss stops Dragon and walks away. In this scene you get to see some amazing wire fu usage, some incredible flexibility by Nicholas Tse ( and incredible durability and flexibility by his pants! Seriously, where can I get pants like that?), breaking tables and chairs, a 50 to one fight scene that could’ve been less realistic( they make a small effort of having 3-5 people attack him at once), and last but not least; 5-10 seconds of Wing Chun vs various kicks ( I thought it was pretty cool….).
Fight number two happens in a sushi restaurant. Dragon is sent there to retrieve something one of Tiger’s friends stole, but one of his “colleagues” has drugged Tiger and comes along with 200 men to retrieve it himself( He’s one of your stereotypical gangster henchmen who thinks he should be treated better, and will always try to steal the main gangster protagonist’s mission). Dragon, who likes a fair fight, decided to beat the crap outta everyone, a drugged Tiger must resort to some capoeira like moves on the ground before he’s sent flying into the room where Turbo is eating. Turbo grabs his nunchucks joins the brawl. This fight isn’t as awesome as fight one, but it is pretty cool. In fight one, the dudes only had their fists, now they use swords! My opinion is that the fight choreography here, tho still good, isn’t as good as the one in the first fight.. The fight is too short, they could’ve done more with it. Turbo barely gets to fight, which is sad, because I liked him! Most of the fight is centred around Dragon, which is ok, but I’d like more nunchucking! I still think this fight is better than the one in that movie where Bruce Lee attacks a whole dojo full Japanese martial artists
After the fight, the camera shifts to the Gate, where you’ll see some kids do shaolin like training. Even though the kids aren’t spectacular, and there are no fights scenes, I’d just like to mention it. Then after 10-15 minutes or boring stuff Turbo gets to fight with Master Wong. Turbo using his nunchucks, Master Wong using a sandal. It’s only like five seconds long, Master Wong dodges everything and slaps Turbo around the face with the sandal and tells him how he doesn’t understand the majesty of nunchucks or something. After hours of internal monologue ( but luckily we only get 3 seconds of it), he becomes humble, tells the Master how he has changed his ways, and ta-dah: He’s now a student of the DGT.
Next fight is between a gangster boss with no training, armed with a baseball bat vs around 8 people, armed with knives, sais, bos, three section staves. And yes, the boss gets pwned so hard and ultimately killed. After the boss’s daughter slaps the murderers across their face, Dragon comes along with a bo-staff. This fight is ok, again; it’s not spectacular, but I imagine it’s hard to choreograph a fight between a bo-staff and a guy dual wielding sais ( that’s why Dragon ultimately loses his staff and must fight him unamered). Again, the fight is too short, this one guy makes Bruce Lee style noises and the light was incredibly bad. Of course, one can’t expect anything else from a baseball field at night with one of those big lamps on, but still: I’d actually like to see the fighters. But the staff work was cool enough, and it’s nice to finally see sais back in action( I thought they died with Raphael).
Now, fight five is between evil dude Shibumi, Turbo, Tiger and Master Wong. Shibumi grabs the school’s big ass metal sign, KTFOs Turbo and is attacked by a guan dao wielding master. Shibumi blocks the guan dao with his hands, throws the sign onto the master thus creating some distance between em. Shibumi then starts using some wing chun like moves mixed with the fighting style of M.Bison from Street Fighter. This fight is pretty mediocre, but I think it’s meant to be like that. This one of those one sided fights, where the bad guy owns the good guy’s master. Tiger comes jumping in immediately after the Master is beaten up and get’s KTFOed as fast as Turbo got. Shibumi then kills the Master in a way I won’t spoil for you.. Well, Shibumi makes a bullshido like statement here tho. “ Dragon Tiger Gates’s Kung Fu SUCKS” ( it said so in the Norwegian subtitles).
After meeting with some kinda divine guy, the dudes get their deadly techniques ( and Turbo gets a new pair of nunchucks).
Final Fight: In some kinda abandoned factory you see Shibumi training on the biggest frikkin punching bag and wooden training dummy I’ve ever seen. Dragon got separated from Tiger and Turbo, so at the beginning, it’s only Tiger and Turbo fighting Shibumi. And this fight looks like it came straight out of a comic book ( meaning it’s awesome! But DGT is based on a comic…). Shibumi beats the crap out of Tiger and Turbo after being kicked and hit a few times, and Dragon arrived to save the day. The fight in itself is pretty ok, but I wish there was a bit more…Fighting. The protagonists have to use special moves. It’s like 30 seconds of awesome nunchuck and taekwondo teamwork, and then they switch over to super moves, then 30 seconds of Dragon fighting, then the rest is Dragon’s super move. I won’t describe them in detail, but they’re just doing tricks with nunchucks, wire fu and in Dragon’s case: Just pummelling Shibumi with a lot of strikes. The effects were cool, and they impressed my family, but I wanted the three to work together, all three at once against Shibumi. That would have been a good ending in my book, because Dragon only punches, Tiger only kicks, Turbo only uses weapons, with their powers combined, they would become:
Captain Planetan all round martial art fighting machine.
I’ve seen my share of good fight scenes ( Ong Bak, various Jet Li movies), and I’ve seen crap ones ( Bloodsport, Best of the Best), and personally, I think this movie is one of the better ones in the martial arts genre.
Plot: 3/5. There are times you’ll sit down and ask yourself: WTF is going on?!
Fights 4/5. They shouldn’t have used super moves! Shibumi could’ve been cool, but they decided to give him the ability to levitate, to use his cape as a drill, etc.
Acting: ?/5 I didn’t notice any bad acting, but I was watching it for the fights, so I didn’t pay so much attention.
Lights/Camera work: 4/5. The light and camera only got on my nerves the fight in the baseball field and the last fight.
I’d also like to say that Nicholas Tse is frikkin awesome.
Overall a weak 4 out of 5.
If you enjoy Hong Kong movies ( like I do), I encourage you to watch this. If you hate Hong Kong movies, but love Rocky ( which is equally awesome), this isn’t the movie for you.