Dishonour among outlaws, John Woo style - except that this time the conflicts are fought out with fists, blades and spears, not guns. Woo claims it started out as a zen movie about internalised conflicts, but it plays like a regular martial arts melodrama; only the tone is darker and more cynical than usual. Kao recruits skilled fighters to exact vengeance on his old foe Pai, but is himself far from the paragon of wounded virtue he seems. The emphasis on betrayal and treachery is pretty relentless, although there's the odd visual gag and 'magic' feat to lighten the tone. Homosexual overtones are rife.