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New Dragon Gate Inn (1992)
Director: Li Hui Min

review by Jeff Young

Produced by the great Tsui Hark (pron. 'Choy Hok'), this mediaeval swordplay fantasy is a remake of King Hu's Dragon Gate Inn (1967), and features the Asian superstar Donnie Yen, Tony (Hard-Boiled) Leung, Maggie (Irma Vep) Cheung and the recently retired Brigitte (Chungking Express) Lin.
   The episodic storyline concerns spies and resistance fighters in the time of the oppressive Ming dynasty. A despotic eunuch has executed a government official sympathetic to the common people, and sets a trap to lure out the dead man's associates by using his children as bait. The powerful 'black flag' riders attempt to capture Yen and Lin's gang of secret agents, tracking them down to the isolated venue of the title, where Cheung's sexy landlady reigns supreme, and bad weather prevents any escape until the villain's reinforcements arrive.
   The location action includes arresting fight scenes shot in the Gobi desert, and photography of other landscapes is breathtaking. Cheung turns in a thoroughly delightful performance here stealing the whole show from Yen and Lin, and even the usually dominant Leung (playing the indestructible eunuch) is overshadowed by her exquisite charm and wit. As with other films such as this, the swordfights and kung fu owe nearly as much to the art of Chinese dance in their perfectly timed choreography as they do to acrobatic stunt coordination, and from various duels to full scale battles, the violence is purposefully cinematic. Harsh language and climactic gory effects ensure New Dragon Gate Inn gets slapped with an adults-only certificate, but the predictable romantic triangle is strictly PG rated.
previously published online, VideoVista #21
New Dragon Gate Inn
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