Jiang Wen follows up the incredible success of 2010’s Let The Bullets Fly with a suitably ostentatious and convoluted yarn about the violent ramifications of a rigged beauty pageant in 1920s Shanghai. Pulsating with splashy dance numbers, garish visuals and an overzealous desire to hit Western audiences right in their nostalgia pleasure centre, Gone With the Bullets proves an unwieldy, self-indulgent ride.
I had little interest or faith in Stephen Chow’s latest retelling of the classic Chinese fantasy, but there is some enjoyment to be had. The story, which is essentially the origin story of monk Tripitaka, relies heavily on large CGI beasts fighting each other for extended periods of time. This isn’t ideal, especially when the CGI is hardly cutting edge, but the broad humour does occasionally hit home, while Shu Qi delivers an endearing central role as demon-hunter Duan, who falls for our central protagonist, the less adept Chen (Wen Zhang). Chrissie Chau plays Duan’s more sexually awakened young sister, and one of the film’s best sequence features Chau’s character instructing Shu Qi how to woo her man, and mainland star Huang Bo turns up late on, ushering in the Monkey King for the final stand off. Should play well on the Mainland over the CNY holidays next week, and Chow’s name should help it travel too.