The Taking of Tiger Mountain (2014)

Hong Kong Panorama DVD

The Great Tony Leung Ka Fai as Lord Hawk and Yu Nan as his woman Qing Lian


Text below written 2015-12-07


Tsui Hark takes on the (almost WW2) 1946 true heroic tale about a small unit of only 36 soldiers from the PLA, The
Peoples Liberation Army of China (Folket Befrielsearmé in swedish) attacking and obliterating the mighty bandit lord
Hawk and his 2000 men gang in their almost un-attackable stronghold up high on the Tiger Mountain.

It's a huge and lavish production with tons of CGI usage and it's for sure not documentary accurate in it's style as this
is a wild fantasy depiction of the happenings. The colorful bandits goes freestyle ski-crossing with accuracy on old but
short wooden skies down the mountain slope. Who knew that chinese ww2 bandits invented this alpine sport ?
They are also wearing goggles and helmets that slightly reminds you of someone from a Steampunk movie.
Almost everything is CGI and a minus, as always with films nowadays, were 1. the fake blood spurts and why not use
some good old blood squibs that looks so much better ? Probably because the FPS computer games generation are
perfectly happy with these shit looking effects so the filmmakers don't have to make the effort, and it's cheaper too,
and 2. the Snow-Tiger attack that looked awful. But otherwise the CGI was mostly OK.

CGI landscape

Ha! Ha! Ha! I Liked this film. Sure, popcorn entertainment BUT watching these 36 stoic & heroic PLA soldiers attacking
a horde of bandits felt a bit like when you saw Zack Snyder's 300 and a small group of (if not stoic but) heroic Spartans
fighting the bizarre Persian horde. In both these films the heroes are either a bit boring as in this film or unlikeable as in 300
and (deep down at least) you are cheering for the funnier and more colorful Bad Guys, Lord Hawks gang or the persians.
You can see that Tsui Hark feels the same and he wisely has given a lot of screen time to the goings-on in the bandits nest.
There's some war action - Ra-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-tat, Boom and Pow, and war scenes bores me but the attacking Freestyle
skiing bandits equipped with machine guns and goggles were quite cool.

But, the best thing in this film was Tony Leung Ka Fai as the Evil Lord Hawk with his animated murder bird of prey.
He's splendidly bizarre and looks like a chinese version of Danny De Vito's Penguin.
I Love Tony Leung Ka Fai, he's always Good (as in the very underrated and forgotten taiwanese thriller Double Vision)
and i'm cheering for him to escape the finale slaughter and win the fight against the snotty "hero" Yang .... But No. Nope.

Lady Hawk, Qing Lian and Yang

The Story:

It's 1946, the year after the Japanese capitulation, there's a civil war going on between Kuomintang and the PLA. Bandits
are plundering and harassing the civilians in the lawless areas in the Northeast and different gangs are fighting each other.
Lord Hawk (Tony Leung Ka Fai) leads the most powerful gang as he has gotten hold of an abandoned japanese fort with
lots and lots of heavy weapons including a tank, upp high on the Tiger Mountain.
Due to the civil war the PLA can only shake loose a small force of 36 men and a nurse (Tony Liya as Bai), Unit 203, to
deal with Lord Hawk and protect the civilians in the area.

They set camp at/in (? arrrgh, these prepositions are really nasty) the village of Leather Creek and defends the villagers
against a massive Freestyle skiing bandit attack and then prepares The Taking of The Tiger Mountain.
Yang Zirong (Zhang Hanyu) is the one who infiltrates the inner circle of Lord Hawk and is supposed to be the hero of this
film - BUT his character, to me that is, feels a bit snotty and self opinioned (also in the interview in the extras) and comes
through as slightly unlikeable, not least because of his brutal murdering of the unarmed and helpless bandit Luan Ping.
Luan Ping played by Du Yi Heng is a small role but he plays it well, he's charismatic and full of life, yes he's a bandit but
as his role figure has got some life to it (in contrast to the PLA guys) he shouldn't be executed like that by the smug Yang.
Yes, i almost forgot, there's an intro and an epilogue with a nowadays guy called Jimmy visiting Harbin and his grandmother
who's either Qing Lian or Bai and there's also an old video clip of a Peking Opera performance of this heroic story.

The Great and Legendary Tsui Hark

anamorphic widescreen, DTS-ES or DD 5.1 mandarin with english subs and interviews with: 1. director Tsu Hark (8 min) and
with english subtitles. Hark says that as Lord Hawk had fighted against the japanese during WW2 he wouldn't make him totally
rotten and in this film Hawk actually seems to be quite beloved by his men, his brothers, and the atmosphere in the fort is almost
joyful. Not a lot of women, but still joyful and just as the finale slaughter starts the men are celebrating Hawks 60th birthday, aaah.
I wonder if the chinese audience are rooting for the "wrong side", the bandits, also or is it just me, a seen-too-many films cinéaste
cult film lover westerner? Am I depraved?
2. with Tony Leung Ka Fai (5 min) with english subs about his role. And yes, i forgot. What's the deal for Hawk? He's The King
of Tiger Mountain and he wants to be also The King of North-Eastern China.
3. with Zhang Hanyu (4 min) with english subs, 4. with Tony Lia with english subs, 5. Yu Nan (2 min without subs, played Qing
Lian), 6. Chen Xiao (2 min no subs, someone in unit 203), 7. Li Geng Xin (no subs, played the captain of unit 203) and 8. Han
Geng (no subs, played Jimmy).
The Film is based on the novel "Tracks in the Snowy Forest" by Qu Bo and the film was released in 3D in the cinemas

 

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