Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Bridge of Dragons



BRIDGE OF DRAGONS (1999)

Directed by: Isaac Florentine
Written by: Carlton Holder
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Valerie Chow

Bridge of Dragons
is another mini action masterpiece from cult director, Isaac Florentine. Much like his other films, Cold Harvest, High Voltage and US Seals 2, Bridge of Dragons is a highly entertaining, if slightly over-the-top, flick featuring adrenaline fuelled action sequences.

Set in an alternative post war world, Bridge of Dragons tells the story of a fallen society ruled by the vicious General Ruechang (Tagawa). Preparing to marry the resistant Princess Halo, he is humiliated when she escapes his clutches and flees to the opposing rebels. Sending his most elite assassin Warchild (Lundgren) to retrieve her, Ruechang gets more than he bargained for when Warchild turns traitor, joining the rebels. All out war escalades, as Warchild and Halo set out to free the people and put an end to Ryechang’s deadly reign.

Minimal plot serves as a structure for some spectacular action, in what is essentially a fun film. The alternate reality (much like the futuristic western setting in Cold Harvest) adds a lot of charm and is pulled off effectively with some decent production values. Not everyone will dig the alternate vibe, but if you can suspend disbelief for an hour and a half, there is a lot of fun to be had. Lundgren is his usual charismatic self and gets to show off his martial arts skills (to great effect) in the fight scenes. Tagawa (reuniting with Lundgren after starring together in Showdown In Little Tokyo) is great as always, as the evil dictator, but could have been given a little more screen time. The really rather lovely Valerie Chow (billed here as Rachel Shane) is a pleasure to watch, though seems to be remarkably made up considering she is on the run.

As with all Florentine’s films, it is the action that really delivers. Bringing a Hong Kong flavour to proceedings, Bridge Of Dragons features some thrilling gunplay sequences. Working with frequent collaborator, fight arranger Akihiro Noguchi (High Voltage, Special Forces), Florentine has also created some blistering fight sequences. Though not as accomplished as those in US Seals 2 and Cold Harvest, the fights are still well filmed and choreographed, with the stick-fight on wooden stumps and the final duel being standouts. It wouldn’t be a Florentine film without his trademark exaggerated sound effects. Used only sparingly here, characters actions and fight movements are accompanied with the requisite swoosh noises and only add to the fun vibe.

Once again, Florentine has served up the goods on a meagre budget and proved he is one of the most creative action directors around. Bridge Of Dragons is a hoot from start to finish and should be enjoyed by any avid action fan.

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