Promising title, right? For at least the first scene of this heavily computer-rendered wuxia epic, we see a lot of cinema’s most riotously entertaining weapon: the whirling, circular blade known as the flying guillotine, which lands around an unfortunate victim’s neck before the snap back. Alas, filmmaker Andrew Lau (codirector of Infernal Affairs, the basis for Scorsese’s The Departed) almost immediately loses the thread, swaddling his Qing Dynasty proceedings in stultifying palace intrigue, end-of-an-era speechifying and barely any slicing to speak of. All the solemnity is deadly: Not one of these superhuman gang members registers in memory, and you feel stiffed on gory giggles. Talk about having your chain yanked.
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