Blu-ray Review: ‘The Taking of Tiger Mountain’ Is A Good Action Movie

‘The Taking of Tiger Mountain’ is veteran director Tsui Hark’s latest effort, and all things considered it’s a pretty good epic/period piece. While it does have its share of rough spots and problems (uneven pacing, odd and sometimes unnecessary story-telling choices, etc.) the strength of Tsui in the director’s chair proves enough to pull it out.

The story takes place in historical China 1947 where Communist detachment 203, lead by Jianbo (Kenny Lin), fights against the bandit chieftain Cinereous Vulture (Leung), who has taken over Tiger Mountain along with his army of eight warriors and thousands of bandits, Jianbo and his detachment only have about thirty soldiers so the only way to win this battle against heavy odds, is to get creative and plan a sneak-attack on Cinereous Vulture.

One of the weirdest (and confusing) writing choices of the film comes from how the soldiers are portrayed versus the bandits/warriors. The communists are written and portrayed in a very realistic and ordinary fashion. Very “nothing to see here”. The villains, however, look like movie villains with fantastic costumes, weapons, and personalities. At some points it feels like watching a movie from the 90’s when some character from out of time or space visits the present and humor and caricature were emphasized over any attempt at realism.

‘Tiger Mountain’ is mostly an action flick that follows the trope of a group of soldiers on a mission. In this sense it is pretty straightforward. The action scenes look good, but they are noticeably mostly CGI. Despite any flaws it has this is a good movie and an enjoyable one at that. No knowledge of the history it is portraying is necessary as the storytelling does a good job situating the audience and letting you know what is going on.

One more thing worth pointing out is what happens after the credits begin to roll. There is an alternate ending that basically uproots everything that you just watched. I guess it is interesting to see what would have happened had things gone another way, but the alternate ending is really over the top and really gives the viewer a weird feeling to walk away with. Maybe the filmmakers thought that people wouldn’t like the original ending, but throwing the alternate ending in right away is pretty confusing and weird.

‘The Taking of Tiger Mountain’ is a good action flick from Tsui Hark. It does not have all the appeal of some of his earlier work, but it is nevertheless an entertaining watch. Even with its flaws it is better than many of the terrible action movies being released these days.

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