Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 22nd, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: China / Hong Kong, 2010
Director: Wen Jiang
Writers: Junli Guo, Wen Jiang, Bukong Li, Ping Shu, Xiao Wei, Sujin Zhu
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Xiaogang Feng, Wen Jiang, You Ge, Kun Chen, Carina Lau, Jun Hu, Wu Jiang, Yun Zhou, Lu Yao, Pu Miao
BluRay released: April 24th, 2012
Approximate running time: 132 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Mandarin, Dolby Digital Stereo Mandarin, DTS-HD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo English
BluRay Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
Synopsis: A bandit hijacks a stage coach that was transporting the newly appointed to the mayor of Goose Town. Unfortunately for the bandit the mayor turns out to be an imposter, who has been posing as the mayor since the real mayor’s untimely death. Not wanting to walk away empty handed, the bandit concocts a new plan in which he will pose as the new mayor of Goose Town. Things start to turn for the worse shortly after their arrival when the bandit is faced with a formidable opponent in the form of a ruthless gang leader. Can these two men co-exist or will one of them meet a bitter end in this power struggle for control over Goose Town.
Though action films have remained one of the core genre in Hong Kong cinema over the years. There is no denying that the genre reached its peak in the late 1980’s and by the mid-1990’s the decay has already begun to set in. And while martial arts themed action films have never fully went away. More operatic action themed films, most notably those known as Heroic Bloodshed films, had all but vanished from the cinematic landscape. Every once and awhile film comes along a film that reminds of those long lost days where Hong Kong cinema felt like anything could and would often happen at a drop of pin.
This brings us to Let the Bullets Fly, a quick drawing barrage bullets and mayhem, that even the most jaded fan of Hong Kong cinema’s days of yore would be hard pressed not to thoroughly enjoy. The plot is set in the old west and just like the Sergio Leone Man with no Name films, there is no clear distinction between good verse evil, everyone are just shades of grey. Everyone is out for themselves and there are numerous double dealings along the way. Even the few women characters that appear in this film are far from being of virtuous in nature.
At just over two hours in length, the narrative is a lean, mean, fighting machine that moves along at a brisk pace. And while the characters play a pivotal role in why this film is so damn enjoyable. It should not come as a surprise that it is the action sequences where this film excels the most and leaves its strongest impression. Once the bullets start to fly, the body count starts to rise.
Other areas in which this film excels include its first rate cinematography which reinforce the epic feel of the story at hand and the film’s score which at times has a Spaghetti Western like vibe to it. Also humor plays an integral role in the story at hand and while there are many instances in which humor can become diluted in foreign films. Since a lot of humor is often regionalized, thus lacking a universal appeal. Fortunately the majority of the humor in this film translates very well, not matter where you come from geographically.
Performance wise, every last actor in this film is excellent. The film’s strongest performance comes from its director Wen Jiang (Devil’s on the Doorstep) in the role of the bandit, who poses as the new mayor of Goose Town. The film’s most memorable performance comes from the ever reliable Chow Yun Fat (The Killer, Hard-Boiled) in the role of Master Huang, a ruthless crime boss that wants to keep his firm hold over the citizens of Goose Town. Known more for his more sympathetic role, it is refreshing seeing him play such a devious character.
Action cinema in Hong Kong has been on a downward slide for a while now, with a few films along the way that have given fans of Hong Kong action cinema a small glimpse of hope that all is not yet lost. And when compared to other action films that have immerged from Hong Kong cinema over the last two decades, Let the Bullets Fly is without a doubt the most exhilarating action film that has immerged from Hong Kong cinema since the heyday of Heroic Bloodshed films.
Let the Bullets Fly comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Colors look vibrant, flesh tones look healthy, black levels look consistently good, grain structure looks natural, details looks crisp and there are no problems with compression.
This release comes with four audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Mandarin, a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Mandarin, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in English. All four audio mixes sound great, with the two DTS-HD audio mixes being the strongest of the four audio mixes. There is solid channel separation throughout, with the more the special effects and more ambient aspects of the soundtrack benefiting most from these two audio mixes. This release comes with removable English subtitles that are easy to follow and error free.
Extras for this release are limited to a trailer for the film and trailers for other titles also available from Well Go USA. Overall Let the Bullets Fly gets a first rate audio / video presentation from Well Go USA.
Note: Also included with this combo release is a DVD copy that has all the contents that are included on the BluRay counterpart.