Judge David Johnson lets the bullets fly, lets the bodies hit the floor, and then eats a ham sandwich in victory.
The bullets indeed fly, but…
Goose Town is ready to be plucked. Career bandit Pocky Zhang (Jiang Wen, Warriors of Heaven and Earth) has made his money over the years churning through small to moderate train robberies. A con man gets into his ear and convinces him of a golden egg to be found in Goose Town, a wealthy city that promises buckets of cash for politicos shaky on their scruples. Zhang can't resist. Through some political chicanery, he secures the governorship of Goose Town and begins laying his plans to cash in.
However, there is one big obstacle: Master Huang (Chow Yun-Fat, Hard Boiled), a ruthless crime lord who holds Goose Town in his clutches and takes major percentages of all funds that flow through it. A tenuous alliance between the two players eventually sours and that's when the bullets start to fly.
But not nearly enough for my taste…or to validate the film's lengthy runtime (130+ minutes) and the marketing slant as a slam-bang actioner. It's not. Let the Bullets Fly is a dark-comedy through and through, laced with moments of absurdist mayhem and highlighted by a goofy comedic turn from Chow Yun-Fat.
If you adjust your expectations and have the time/patience to sit through the two-hour slog, there's some entertainment to be had. The film is not short on energy and the much of the humor actually works. The plot is soaked with back-stabbings and betrayals, which keeps things interesting up until the big finale.
And by "big" I mean "not-so-big." I was primed for an over-the-top bullet-fest. While there was an exchange of gunfire, the culmination is not nearly the orgy of violence I assumed was on the way. It's a character-centric finale and while satisfying in its own right—considering who the character is and the depth of his particular arc—I was disappointed in the milquetoast action that wrapped things up.
Anyway, the big draw here is Chow Yun-Fat who is big-time fun in two roles: the gangster and his slow-witted body double. It's a side of the icon I hadn't seen and the novelty of his performance is just memorable enough to rescue Let the Bullets Fly from complete mediocrity.
Standard-issue Blu-ray from Well Go USA. With the only extra being a DVD copy, it's all about the technical merits. Both the video (1.78:1/1080p) and audio (DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio) deliver in a strong way, offering a clean resolution (so sharp that it betrays several instances of dodgy CGI) and a heart aural arrangement when the bombast calls for it.
You're going to have to be in the right frame of mind and in the mood for some Chow Yun-Fat slapstick.
Not Guilty, but also not a full-fledged endorsement.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Well Go USA
• DVD Copy
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