The Legend of Zu (2001)
Reviewed by: MrBooth on 2001-11-17
Summary: Sensory spectacle
LEGEND OF ZU - Whoosh, swirl, bam! Repeat. Tsui Hark is well known for the pace of his movies... he often tends to throw spectacle at the viewer pretty much without pause for rest, and LEGEND OF ZU is perhaps the apex of this. There's barely moment when some immortal isn't swishing their weapons or themselves about the screen, or shouting some vaguely incomprehensible but important sounding phrases out. A real audiovisual spectacle... this is a movie that really needs to be watched on a big scale home theatre setup to be appreciated (or in a theatre I guess!)... the visual and sound effects are all quite mindblowing. But that's basically all there is to the film. I sat throughout the 2 hour length quite fascinated and certainly impressed, but was aware that I wasn't exactly "enjoying" it. I didn't crack a smile once, or feel any other emotional connection really.

What the movie is missing is the human element... in the original Zu, we had Yuen Biao as the naive innocent dropped into a world of immortals with powers and issues that were quite beyond his experience and understanding. We followed his confusion, amazement and growth. In LOZ, the equivalent of Yuen Biao is simply skipped, and the viewer is dropped directly in amongst the world of the immortals. The trouble being that we don't really understand, and hence don't really care, about their issues. I don't think it would have mattered to me at all whether the Zu Mountain warriors or Insomnia had won their battle. It looks as if maybe Zhang Ziyi was meant to play the human role, but evidently they could only afford about 10 minutes of her screen time, so her appearance seems rather contrived and unrelated to the rest of the movie.

But anyway, there's some fantastic special effects and lots of appropriately epic sounding things being shouted out, and it certainly flys by. Just don't judge it as a 'movie' (because it's a bad one), just consider it a sensory experience!

DVD quality is v. nice - anamorphic w/ reasonable transfer, and *great* sound mix - oh yes, forgot to mention that the soundtrack is really good! However, I don't know if it was just the office player misbehaving, but there seemed to be a couple of 30 second+ sections where the subtitles disappeared completely (including the first 30 seconds of the movie). It didn't seem to matter much though
Reviewer Score: 7

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