The Outhouse shows up at the Tribeca Film Festival to take a look at some of the most highly-anticipated independent films coming down the pike. This time out: the absolute zaniest action comedy to come out in years!
Recently, Staff Writer Royal Nonesuch purchased a package of tickets to films screening at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. This is the third of his reports from the festival.
LET THE BULLETS FLY
Directed by Wen Jiang
China, Hong Kong
Narrative 132 min.
The opening scene of Let the Bullets Fly is a completely manic, over-the-top action sequence that sets the tone of what the rest of the film has in store. It's full of hilarious, cartoony violence and senses-shattering whiz-bang. That tone continues throughout the entire film.
But there's more to it than that. The highest-grossing film in China's history, Let the Bullets Fly is a great piece of mind-blowing action cinema that hews closer to Stephen Chow than to Michael Bay. It drives hard, it brings the laughs, but it also features a thoughtful, well-realized story that is bolstered by all the stuntwork and CGI shennanigans. The plot of this sprawling picture focuses on Zhang (played by Wen Jiang, who also directed), a Chinese gangster who assumes the identity of the governor of a small village and tries to install a benevolent, Robin Hood-type of redistribution of wealth. This plan does not go over well with Huang (Yun-Fat Chow), the local gangster who basically runs the town and obviously wants all the riches for himself.
The film cleverly transplants John Woo-type two-fisted gunplay and transplants it into the 1920's, then matches it up with loads of story arcs and genuine emotions, not to mention exceptional filmmaking. The jokes here are constant, and the frenetic cutting makes the pacing so quick and unruly that the viewer will probably be left breathless trying to keep up. Through all the gun-fu, false identities, rapid-fire humor, and shifting alliances, Let the Bullets Fly leaves no stone unturned in the process of maximizing story potential.
It isn't all head-splitting action, though. In fact, the best sequence in the film features Zhang and Huang sitting around a table discussing philosophy and their personal worldviews. For what amounts to a talking head discussion, this lengthy scene is so visually dynamic that it should be taught in film schools everywhere. The directing, acting, cinematography, camerawork, and editing are so exceptional that it shows Jiang to be a world class filmmaker at work. The arcing camera and super-tight editing will leave you stunned. It's a truly powerful scene, and is surrounded with a ton of incredible film work. The action is crazy, and in terms of humor, nothing is sacred (all the death and mayhem, and even a scene of sexual violence, are played up for laughs no more than a few seconds after they occur). But the fact remains that as to formal filmmaking elements and great storytelling, Let the Bullets Fly demonstrates blockbuster movies at their very best.
Written or Contributed by: Royal Nonesuch