Foreign Affairs: 'Let the Bullets Fly' in This Wily War of Wits from China
Plus 'Young Goethe' from Germany and 'Scheherazade' from Egypt
"Let the Bullets Fly" (Well Go), currently the highest-grossing Chinese film of all time, has a title that suggests shoot-outs and action galore, but in fact this slyly comic satire plays more like a spaghetti western in twenties-era China, full of bluffs and feints and false identities. Chow Yun-Fat has a blast playing a ruthless, wily crime boss who takes on a notorious desert bandit (Jiang Wen) posing as the new Governor with the help of the unreliable con-man of a counselor (Ge You). From there it turns into a combination Robin Hood story, revenge tale, and confidence game with three players constantly shifting alliances (and sometimes identities).
Director/star Jiang Wen has crafted a modern take on the wild Hong Kong action films of the eighties heyday, with all the energy, dotty humor, broad performances, and mad plot twists, and drops himself in the center as the eye of calm at the center of the chaos. It uses CGI about as convincingly as the old-school movies applies optical effects, just a little off and artificial, barely a step up from SyFy original movies, but always reaching for something unexpected. The rest is carried along by star power, crazed plotting, and wily schemes. Great? Perhaps not, but certainly great fun. More reviews here.
Blu-ray and DVD, with original Mandarin and English dub soundtracks and English subtitles. No supplements, but the Blu-ray edition features a bonus DVD. A collector's edition is also available with supplements, but was not provided for review.
See the trailer below, after the jump.
From Germany comes "Young Goethe In Love" (Music Box), a romantic drama starring Alexander Fehling as aspiring poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 18th century Bavaria. Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert calls it: "A delight on its own terms, even if it has little to do with the real Goethe; here is a randy young man not a million miles apart from Tom Jones." German with English subtitles. DVD only, with two featurettes.
"Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story" (Facets/ArtMattan) explores sexual politics in Egypt through the story of a TV talk show host who delves into women's issues. "Lively, swift, vibrantly colorful and for the most part wonderfully acted, the film is slyly aware of the daytime talk show as a vehicle for women's concerns," writes New York Times film critic Jeannette Catsoulis. The two-disc set also includes two additional films from Egypt: the 1999 feature "Fallen Angels Paradise" directed by Ossama Fawsi and the 2002 short film "Rotating Square."