Here's a tale of orphans and lovers. A sword and his 'butterfly' - his sister who doesn't want to be considered a woman, and another boy who has trouble conveying his love to her. Two of them are assassins, working to kill a rival to their lord as to become masters of the martial arts world.
The plot feels a little flimsy and fluttery, but from the moment where Yeoh appeared in the first scene with the net of ribbons and a chariot carried above the trees, telling the unreciprocated love of her life his mushroom hadn't grown since he was a kid, I knew I was in for something special, and though it takes a stray step here and there it doesn't disappoint. The introduction of the bra and underpants as this 'one new thing from the West that women are very interested in' was a fun and fascinating one too.
The final showdown it all leads up to it, followed by a recap of the flashiest or most violent bits of the movie accompanied to soft Chinese music, and the Donnie Yen scene when he was trying to have a drink with the girl as she kept downing glass after glass... it has it's moments! Little whirlwind, the prince and his magical ball don't disappoint either. You'll remember scenes from this one for sure.
Feels like a potential predecessor to the Crouching Tiger movies that came later too. A bit more poetic. A bit more light-footed. A bit more mighty and violent compared to the martial art movie counterparts of the time (large projectiles sometimes leave gaping holes in people and so), though unfortunately still with a few of the flaws movies of the time carried.
There's one scene in particular where the thrown spears seem to lack weight and fail to feel dangerous at all. There are a few scenes where exploding items that are too cleanly divided/clearly split-up beforehand. Also a few moments where the action's a bit too sped-up. Overall though they manage. It's fluent and ferocious in a good kind of way, authentic or no, and I thoroughly enjoyed the show.
rated 4/5: fo shizzle