Review: The Taking of Tiger Mountain

This review was originally posted on Punch Drunk Critics

The Taking of Tiger Mountain. Doesn’t that sound like pure fire? You see that trailer and it just sounds and looks like some extra gully Hong Kong experience. See, The Taking of Tiger Mountain is an adaptation of the novel ‘Tracks’ in the Snowy Mountain. It’s the story of People’s Liberation Army versus a Bandit Gang during the Chinese Revolution. The director is Tsui Hark, a director with a great legacy in Hong Kong action cinema. If you haven’t seen classics like Once Upon A Time In China or Legend of Zu you need to fix that.

Here’s the thing with this film though. It’s long, like LONG. It felt like watching a whole war. The pacing is totally off. This felt like they took what should’ve been some miniseries or two movies and crammed it in a really long movie. Some of that caused me to lose track of some of the characters, or really just their names. The characters are pretty amazingly costumed into these really cool and distinct looks. At times it’s like watching a cool Tekken movie.

Now I don’t want to seem like a Debbie Downer because the one thing that is cool to see in this is the action. For those not up on Hark’s work he is like a god of what’s called wire-fu in martial arts flicks. He’s been doing this for close to 4 decades so now with technology out here his set pieces go pretty far insano. Take all that cool stuff from his kung fu with flying into trees and punching so hard the wind hurts and what not and apply that to soldiers fighting battles. You have tanks and planes and machines guns, you have hero soldiers bouncing bullets off of helmets to take guys out and stopping grenades with other grenades, complete insanity. If this movie was shorter it would’ve been worth every penny.

I can’t really say if the performances were great or not. They are kind of generic to be honest. Like there is a dude named Hawk and he has a hawk, I don’t know what truth there is to pull from that. No lie, the whole thing feels like I was watching some fairly average anime but all with real people instead of animation. Like it was some super form of cosplay. Now I know this sounds very harsh, I have to say I’ve seen better from Hark and I was really excited to see this but was profoundly disappointed. So The Taking of Tiger Mountain is something you should really not go out of your way to see, it’s probably worth looking for the English translation of the novel or if you can read mandarin read it that way.

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