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Dragon Town Story
  Year: 1997
Chinese: 龍城正月
Director: Yang Feng-Liang
Producer: Zhang Yimou, Charles Heung Wah-Keung
Cast: Wu Chien-Lien (Ng Sin-Lin),You Yong, Huang Zhong-Qiu, Lin Wei, Gao Xin, Chang Ru-Yan, Lau Shun
The Skinny: Involving pseudo-Fifth Wave drama which isn't as powerful as its more internationally renowned cousins, but still packs a satisfying dramatic punch. Wu Chien-Lien gives a fine central performance.
by Kozo:

Dragon Town Story bears the stamp of producer Zhang Yimou, the Fifth Wave's most celebrated auteur, AND carries the financial backing of Charles Heung, HK's most famous triad producer. The result: a Chinese film produced by Hong Kong people starring a Taiwanese actress. Wu Chien-Lien is Jiang Lan-Juan, who survived the slaughter of her family on the day of her wedding. Nine years later she hires legendary assassin Li Qing-Yang (You Yong) to kill the man who slew her family. The murderer, Xiong Jin-Bao (Huang Zhong-Qiu), is a rich army officer with a wife and twenty year-old son. Juan and Yang pretend to be husband and wife to slip into Dragon Town, but the first assassination attempt goes awry. Before a second attempt can be made, the two find themselves guests of Xiong, as he clearly begins to suspect that these two are the ones out to get him. Meanwhile, Qing-Yang and Jin-Bao find themselves drawn to one another.

Despite the art film trappings, the storyline of Dragon Town Story is quite commercial - except it's told in Chinese cinema's stark, emotionally muted style. What that means is that the film is heavily boring if you're a Rock/Independence Day type of person. People weaned on MTV will find the slow pans, stark compositions and silent interludes maddening. Those who find such cinema language involving should find Dragon Town Story to be welcome cinematic treat. The guarded emotions of the characters is reflected exceptionally in the film's slow-moving narrative, and Wu Chien-Lien's porcelain beauty fits the film perfectly. Though she lacks the obvious dominating presence of usual Zhang Yimou leading lady Gong Li, she manages a convincing inner strength. Ultimately, this is a drama about the futility of revenge and the irony of fate that suffers only because it isn't as far-reaching or emotionally-involving as, say, Raise the Red Lantern. Dragon Town Story is gripping at moments, but doesn't prove as emotionally wrenching as the very best Fifth Wave movies. However, that caveat shouldn't prevent you from seeking out the film. (Kozo 1997)


image credit: Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen