Science fiction and fantasy
directed by Teddy Chan
One of his companions is the taciturn Chu Hun (Peter Ho), a warrior with a broken stave and a past that burdens him. Alongside a third companion, they set out together for Phoenix City. On the way they meet the organised and disciplined Lizard Clan, who are chasing a cheeky lone thief. Miss Jinggang (Lin ChenHan) is a talented fighter with the ambition to become the Grand Field Marshall herself, even though she has no team, and is only a slight girl rather than a beefy warrior.
The journey to the city has its share of action and obstacles, which involve larger than life effects and acrobatic fighting moves with plenty of wire work. This movie's origins as a video game are apparent in every scene. It's a spectacle, albeit one with a high body count. And once in the city, dazzling costumes and the backdrop of a huge arena compete for attention with spinning and flying moves and the spiked pit of deadly giant rocks shown in the trailer. This movie is meant as a visual feast, without a trace of self-conscious subtlety. The film's style is to have everything oversized and outrageous.
Where nuance is present it's in the personalities of the main characters. One such is the Northern slave girl (Luxia Jiang), who begins by being driven by bitterness and nursing a deep need for revenge for what's happened to her family in the past. But she is changed by events. In a more western movie she might be the love interest, but here the narrative is more focused on the main themes. The place of revenge, ambition, and mercy are central, and it's almost as if the main characters are embodiments of such traits. Dong goes out of his way to help others, even when there's no benefit to himself and much danger. Whilst Miss Jinggang has an endearing way of making herself a part of something and getting people to bond. It's not a comedy, but there's certainly a lighthearted aspect to this movie, amongst all of its mayhem and gore.
The Double World universe features a range of monsters and other peculiar flora and fauna, but it isn't high fantasy in that there's no apparent magic. Yet the martial arts moves and the complete visual effect of all the creatures and the palatial glamour mean that there's plenty to wow the audience even without the addition of magic. This is a fun movie that takes you on a journey with unexpectedly emotional moments, warmth, and quite relentless entertainment. It may employ some shamelessly obvious tropes, but it's a worthwhile movie that stands on its own.
6th August 2020
If you like this, try:The Thousand Faces Of Dunjia by Yuen Woo-Ping
A secret clan of martial artists and masters of disguise fight to keep a dangerous item out of the tentacles of mysterious creatures in order to save mankind.
Review © Ros Jackson
Source: Netflix streaming