The fact that this wacky gurn-fest was a mammoth box office hit in China suggests only one thing: the Chinese have a far better capacity for mentally untangling films that make no sense than we do. Director and star Jiang Wen is bespectacled outlaw ‘Pocky’ Zhang, who has wheedled his way into the governership of the decrepit Goose Town with an eye to taking down evil landowner Master Huang (Chow Yun-Fat). Though it’s set during the 1920s, anachronisms abound: the production design borrows from just about every architectural era you could name, and the weapons range from old-style muskets to modern semi-automatics. The action scenes are choreographed and edited with immense élan, it’s just a shame we’re forced to wade through so much ‘clever’ dialogue and contend with so many conceited plot twists to get to the damn things.
Cast and crew