Dragon Inn (1992)
Reviewed by: Arshadnm6 on 2005-04-22
Summary: An Ensemble of Cast and super choreographed swordplay in the middle of a wasteland......
Raymond Lee (director of ‘Swordsman 3: East is Red’ and co-director of ‘Swordsman’) directs a Ming Dynasty swordplay epic with a huge cast of well-known actors and apparently Donnie Yen playing the Evil Eunuch hell-bent on taking power over the kingdom.

Once again we have those no-good eunuchs raising hell in china, the only difference is that they’re in the middle of a desert on no-mans land!! Set during the Ming Dynasty, Dragon Inn is based on the events during the oppressive reign of the East Chamber, led by a powerful eunuch by the name of ‘Tsao Sui-Yan’ (Donnie Yen). The larger part of Dragon Inn is infused with stunning fight pieces, superior acting, political insights and morals and obviously the catfight between Maggie Cheung and Brigitte Lin. Basically, two warriors by the name of ‘Chow Wai-On’ (Tony Leung) and ‘Yau Mo-Yin’ (Brigitte Lin) save two innocent children, from the lineage of a prominent general, and find refuge in an awkward Inn (naturally ‘Dragon Inn’), a sort of rundown motel in the middle of a barren wasteland. The obvious kidnappers responsible were the members of the East Chamber and the fiendish power-mad Eunuch.

Finally arriving at the Inn, the two heroes meet the owner of the Inn, a sexy mysterious enchantress by the name of ‘Jade’ (played by Maggie Cheung from other recognizable roles in ‘Dragon from Russia’ and ‘As Tears go by’). Jade is a secretive spy-type who doesn’t mind offing the odd one or two fellow’s in order to make a tasty meal, Yau Mo-Yin quickly picks up on the curious distinction that there are no animals in the restaurant, which is placed in the middle of a desert, probably 2000 leagues from the nearest town, although the Inn has a vast supply of meat. Eventually from the dodgy expressions of the cook and the owner you can probably guess that the meat being served is human. Soon enough, the hopelessly disguised East Chamber thugs end up staying at the Inn, inevitably engaging in a game of Cat and Mouse with the suspicious young rebels. In the hope of getting out of the Inn safely the young rebels side with the Innkeeper, oblivious to the fact that the Innkeeper has a secret passage that only she knows about. Although Jade is tempted by the sweet offer of a huge reward for helping the East Chamber Goons, will the lure of earthly riches pull her away from the young heroes or will nobility and righteousness be the victor, only time will tell!!
The picture was produced by Tsui Hark and it shows with the evident ensemble of cast: Tony Leung Ka-Fai as the skilful noble and Leung’s comrade in arms ‘Brigitte Lin’, dressed up as usual in male clothing. Yau Mo-Yin has hidden feelings for Chow Wai-On, but it is never obvious until when the seductive Jade (innkeeper) takes interest in Chow and tries to seduce him. Donnie Yen shows up in the beginning and the end of the movie, but really only gets about 10 minutes of screen-time, but possesses a special swordplay technique that can turn desert sand into dangerous heralding bullets. The last fight is well choreographed which is expected, with Yau, Jade and Chow taking on the evil Eunuch Tsao. But as surprising as it is, the one person to defeat Tsao turns out to be the Dragon Inn cook, a young teenager trained vigorously in the fine art of butchery, yeah right!! The disappointment being that hardly an introduction or character development was bestowed on the young cook, so his entrance in the last fight can only be regarded as a last minute change of plan in the storyline for Tsui Hark / Raymond Lee. Either that or they lost the last few pages of the storyline and so miraculously came up with this laughable display.
Since the names Tsui Hark and Donnie Yen are plastered on the front cover, the fight scenes are no doubt entertaining and as the film progressed they become exceedingly violent and physically demanding. Parts of the movie can get boring, too atmospheric and predictable but all is not lost, since Donnie Yen shows up in the films ultra-gory and all-hell-breaks-loose finale. Certainly the rest of the cast deserve some credit for the success of the film, but some background to the characters would have helped with the storyline. Also the lightning effects and rainstorms (surprising in the middle of a desert with sand storms occurring every half an hour) were meagre at best and should have been left out.

Overall Rating: 6.9/10
Reviewer Score: 7