Review: Let the Bullets Fly (2010)

Review: Let the Bullets Fly (2010)

Let the Bullets Fly is a piece of Chinese cinema that will leave you laughing, thoroughly confused or, more likely, both.  It stars Chow Yun-Fat as a rich opium-lord gangster, Jiang Wen (who also wrote the script) as the leader of a notorious bandit gang and Ge You as a would-be governor who gets caught up with Wen in his quest for riches.  The story begins as the bandit leader hijacks a train and from just the first scene, viewers will get a pretty good idea of the craziness that is to come.

After blowing the train through the air and killing pretty much everyone on board, the bandit finds that there are no riches to be had.  The governor (in disguise) and his wife manage to survive and convince the bandit that he should take the new post of governor in Goose Town.  From there, everyone can make lots of money.

When the bandit gets to Goose Town, he discovers that the local gangster is in charge.  He pledges to take as much money as he can from the rich families in town, including the gangster.  It’s at this point that things in the film start to get really hectic, as the two plot furiously against each other.  They try to expose each other’s secrets, kill off each other’s men and get richer in the process.  All the while, they hold to the pretense that they are really allies.  The whole thing boils down with some actions scenes that are more ridiculous than anything else. 

The highlights of this film really revolve around all the plotting that the three main characters do.  The script is convoluted and complex and it’s often difficult to keep up, but that’s what makes it so entertaining.  Also, the performances from the three leads and the supporting cast are excellent.  Each portrays a unique facet of the intriguing group - the bandit being straightforward, the gangster a cold-blooded, greedy killer and the governor a true political player with nothing on his mind but profit.

Let the Bullets Fly is a fun film, but it doesn’t seem to be able to decide if it should be a Shakespearian intrigue film or a wild, action-flick farce.  The presence of the ludicrous detracts from the tension of the plotting and distracts the viewer from being able to follow what’s going on at times.  I was definitely entertained, but left feeling like I was watching two or three different films (and genres) that got rolled into one, producing something less than it could have been.  I’d say it’s worth a watch, but don’t expect anything more than two hours of casual fun.