Domestically, Let the Bullets Fly is China’s highest grossing film of all time. A comedic crime story set in 1920, the film wavers between playful comedy and stylish action film at the snap of a finger. Seeping into indie theaters March, 2nd, Let the Bullets Fly will give American audiences a taste of what Quentin Tarantino constantly tries to recreate.
Bandit leader, Pockmark Zhang and his crew of mahjong tile mask-wearing bandits are up to their usual ways when they derail a horse pulled train car carrying a new Governor, his wife, and his counselor. For fear of losing his life, Governor Tang tells Zhang that he is actually the counselor and that man who died in the attack, was the Governor. Zhang figures that since no one knew what their new Governor looked like, he would just assume the role, and start making money in a semi-legitimate fashion. The gang takes Tang along as a counselor and head off for Goose-town. The major problem is, Goose-town is under the rule of the drug trafficking crime lord, Master Huang. The two opposing forces butt heads and in turn, create a new legend, transforming the charming bandit Zhang, into the Robin Hood of China.
Over anything else, Let the Bullets Fly is strikingly gorgeous. Minus two sections that employ CGI graphics on par with a made for Syfy T.V. movie, the film is impeccably engrossing in its imagery. Match that with the magnetic charm of director/writer/editor/lead actor Jiang Wen and it’s hard not to fall hard for Let the Bullets Fly, but the movie just keeps upping the ante. Featured as the evil Mast Huang is Chow Yun-Fat, a man us Americans are more used to seeing as the good guy/mentor.
The glaring issue of Let the Bullets Fly is that is rides too close to the line between comedy and action. Too many times I just felt odd laughing when it seemed that was the desired effect. One or two unsettling gory scenes jar the senses, leaving the viewer in a confused state. I’d be lying if I didn’t mention I felt lost a few times. When the bandits take over control of Goose-town, everyone just thinks they’re the actual Governor and his “cabinet,” yet they all seem to refer to each other to the matching mahjong tile number they wear as bandits. Everyone knows the bandits wear those masks, so why is it never questioned?
Let the Bullets Fly is the type of movie Tarantino always looks to make. High on style, wit, and sparely planted gore. You can’t quite put your finger on what brings it all together, but you just know you like it. It makes you smile throughout while marveling you with its fantastic visual flare.
Rating: 3 out of 5 ‘Staches