Movie Review: Go Watch ‘Let the Bullets Fly,’ China’s Highest Grossing Film Ever
Shattering box office records in Hong Kong and mainland China to become the highest grossing film of all time in China, Jiang Wen’s Let the Bullets Fly is finally getting the stateside release it rightly deserves.
The 1920s based western action comedy stars the great Chow Yun-Fet, director Jiang Wen, Ge You and Carina Lau. The film is set in rural china where a notorious bandit named “Pocky” Zhang runs wild. As his gang robs a train he finds out that there is no silver on it, only a con man named Tang who is heading to Goose Town where he has bought himself a governorship. In exchange for his life, Tang decides to help Zhang become the governor of Goose Town where he can expect to earn a small fortune.
Upon arrival to the town, Zhang learns that Master Huang (Yun-Fat) is the wealthy head honcho and the guy who rules the town and sets the laws. Upon witnessing the citizen’s oppression, Zhang decides to become a true governor and establish a fair legal system under the guise of a different name unrelated to bandits. As Huang’s power becomes threatened, he decides it’s time to strike at the governor in an attempt to rid him from Goose Town. Zhang and Huang’s mind games quickly begin to escalate while Tang tries to play both sides so that he can survive despite who wins this comedic battle of semi-epic proportions.
In a nutshell, Let the Bullets Fly is the culmination of wonderful comedic acting, Hard Boiled-style gun fights, an intelligent script and solid directing. It’s what every lighthearted action comedy tries hard to achieve but fails to do so. Even with some terrible CG effects tossed in the mix, there is a lot enjoy in Jiang Wen’s film.
The movie is very Asian when it comes to its humor in that it doesn’t try to be realistic at all, which makes certain scenes that much better. For example, there is one scene where a man is running from a giant drum and accidentally does something to a punk martial artist. The martial artist then proceeds to kick the man into the drum and juggle him like a soccer ball, kicking him off the drum over and over again without letting him hit the ground. It’s not something you see in every film which is why it put a smile on my face.
The best scene in the movie is a five to 10 minute negotiation scene in which Tang, Huang and Zhang are all sitting, each slyly trying to deceive to each other in order to get the upper hand in their own unique schemes. It’s a quick battle of wits that’ll leave you grinning, reminding you of any Robert Downey Jr banter.
This leads me to my next point. Besides a solid script and cast, what makes the movie work and flow so well is the chemistry amongst the performers. The script itself is very tight and witty but because of the speed in which the actors work of each other it makes it all feel real, like nothing was scripted, which is something to admire. Chow Yun Fet is perfectly overbearing, Wen Jiang is cool and collected and You Ge is frivolous and cunning, a wild combination of character attributes.
Let the Bullets Fly is one of those movies where you just need to sit back and enjoy the film for what it is. It may not be hysterical but it is a sharp and witty black comedy that is truly entertainment in its purist form.
Rating: A smart and fun, shoot ‘em up black comedy with the top Chinese talent in the biz (7/10)
Let the Bullets Fly is being released by Well Go USA and Variance Films in its full length, unedited version today, March 2nd.