Dr. Wai, played by Jet Li, is pretty much Hong Kong’s solution to ‘Indiana Jones’ without the whip or the mass popularity. The title is self explanatory of the plot, Dr Wai & his painfully unfunny sidekick roam around 40’s China to retrieve a box holding a magical scripture with, as you guessed, no words. As you can tell the story is simple & not as in-depth or complex as you would think. Where the film really shines is in it’s action. Why not? It’s a martial arts flick where the story is an afterthought & the action is top priority. It’s a Jet Li film, so expect a lot of wireworks in some scenes & they aren‘t hidden as well. There‘s a specific scene where a train runs through a village, rams into a two story building & the guy on the second story is floating in the air, as if he were hanging from an invisible wire. As you could tell the film was released in America in a fully dubbed form, but the film’s original script was heavily changed to satisfy the audience. This is usually done when a foreign story is much too localized or cerebral for Americans to understand, or it’s done because the original dialogue & story were terribly written. In this case, I don’t know whether the original script of this film was any better or not, but I’m not really holding out any hope. The coherence & explanation of the magical scripture is thrown out the window for cheap & terrible humor. There’s even some meta-humor in which Dr.Wai says, “I’m famous actor Jet Li” which bears little to no relevance in the situation.
As I said before, the story is forgettable & poorly written, but the action is on-point. Jet Li fights a mechanical fire breathing Ox, a gang of guys & even two sumo wrestlers! It’s a glorious sight to behold. The movie is crap, but the ending is one of theee most insulting & tasteless things you will see on film. As the magical scripture gives Dr.Wai & his friends a look into the future, they show real archival footage of a post nuke Japan which includes the typical mushroom cloud over Hiroshima & Nagasaki. To make it worse there’s a brief scene of a cow being blown away by the nuclear blast along with buildings being blown away & footage of a blood soaked toddler crying amongst the wreckage as the protagonists cheer “Yipee, Japan looses the war!!!” Yay, real death in a movie about a pulp writer/archeologist! You are better off watching the action scenes of the film online than sitting through an hour & thirty minutes of this bland, crappy, unfunny story. Thanks a lot, Miramax. Oh yeah, the Weinsteins are to blame. That’s Hollywood for you. I recommend you just watch the fights on YouTube.
Watch at your own risk.