Director: Wen Jiang
Being an obtuse American, I feel as if I missed most of the political commentary in “Let the Bullets Fly.” I acknowledged the political metaphors, but anymore than that would be like a nine year old laughing at the thirteen year old’s “snake in the garden” joke. Do Chinese people find “Bulworth” funny? Political commentary aside, I really enjoyed “Let the Bullets Fly.”
“Let the Bullets Fly” is a chaotic action comedy about a bandit, Zhang (Jiang Wen), posing as the mayor of the corrupted ‘Goose Town.’ Even though Zhang’s acts as the mayor, the town’s tyrannical nobleman, Master Huang (Chow Yun-Fat), calls the shots. The two then battle in a game of wits for full control of the town. Zhang may be a bandit, but he’s the Robin Hood type. The previous mayor had an agreement with Huang that they would split the taxes, but Huang is not interested in taking money from the poor.
The first thing Zhang does to supersede Huang is overturn a court decision. Zhang has his sights on evening out the playing fields for the less fortunate. Being a greedy bastard, Huang retaliates. He frames Zhang’s adopted son, Master 6 (Mo Zhang), in a Jell-o debacle. There’s a dispute and Master 6 kills himself to prove his innocence. Zhang then vows to bring down Huang and his tyrannical ways.
The rest of this movie is a series of cause-and-effects. It’s a brutal chess match that uses an entire town as the playing field. Once one trumps the other, the stakes are raised and it starts all over again. It can get rather confusing with all the layers of deception and political subtext.
“Let the Bullets Fly” is an unholy stew with “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Glenn Garry Glenn Ross,” “The Good, The Bad, and The Weird,” “Grumpy Old Men,” “Yojimbo,” “Dumb and Dumber,” and “The Naked Gun” as the ingredients. One minute there’s a fairly serious scene, followed by a wacky fight scene bordering slap-stick. They flip over a train with axes for God’s sake. Axes! Some of the more comedic effects look a bit goofy, but when your goal is goofy, then goofy will suffice.
There’s also a good deal of fast-talkin’-back-and-forth-
Jiang Wen also directed this and I must say, that’s a pretty ridiculous accomplishment. This movie never slows down. It’s a super saturated, hyper frenzy of wit and silliness. To combine slap-stick humor with Chinese proverbs is down-right impressive. The action sequences aren’t too shabby either. Not only is every aspect of film making solid, but every genre they attempt is pretty solid.
All-in-all, “Let the Bullets Fly” is amazingly insane. It’s a slick testament to style, humor, and political commentary (I think). I wish there were more films in America that blended genres like this. After this movie, “Kung Fu Hustle,” and “The Good, The Bad, and The Weird,” I would really like to see a smart, yet silly, action comedy made for adults starring Russel Crowe, Will Ferrel, Sean Penn, Jum Carrey, Woody Harrelson, and Patton Oswald with David Fincher at the director’s helm and a script by the Farrelly brothers.