Opera fisticuffs misfire
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Brotherhood, honour, love, and revenge are only a few of the lazily advanced themes in Gao Xiaosong's My Kingdom (Da Wu Sheng)
The film - four years in the making - is set at the end of the Qing dynasty, at a time of mass beheadings. Yilong, Yu, a Chinese Opera master, is asked by his young son, Yilong, to save the life of another boy, Erkui, set to be killed, after hearing him sing. Years later, Shanghai rival master Yue (Yu Rongguang) challenges Yu to a full-blooded Chinese Opera fight using martial art swords and spears, to claim the 'Mightiest Warrior Plaque'.
Yue wins and forces Yu to break his spear - a sign he will give up performing forever. Yilong (Wu Chun) and Erkui (Han Geng), now Chinese Opera masters themselves, head to Shanghai to reclaim the plaque and honour of their fallen master.
After this point, the film falls apart. Defeating master Yue and attaining the plaque could have been the final climax. But instead it's plopped into Act II, leaving the rest of the film with no direction and the characters struggling with loosely drawn motivations.
Introducing femme fatale Xi (Barbie Hsu) never amounts to anything resembling the love triangle the film posters suggest.
The opening fight between the two Yu(e)s is well choreographed by action director Sammo Hung.
However, those that follow are unambitious - even pedestrian. Don't expect anything rivalling Ip Man 2 here.