The Folklore Behind Invincible Dragon (九龙不败)

21 Nov

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Well GO USA
Now Available on Netflix and DVD

Jin (Max) Zhang is the next Fist of the North Star. Or should that be Crying Freeman? Anime references notwithstanding, he has the good looks to pull off playing either character should they get realized into live action. But in Invincible Dragon, he plays Kowloon, an undercover cop whose lapse in judgement on duty has robbed him of more than just a fiancée. He gets reassigned and stumbles into another crime wave much to the chagrin of his captain.

A psychopath is out on the loose and killing female police officers. Losing his girlfriend is motivation to get him on the case. It’s a cop and MMA showcase of what Zhang can do as a fighter. The punches feel real, especially when his rival, Alexander Sinclair, is played Brazilian mixed martial artist Anderson Silva. They are the highlight. Plus, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bungee cord used in a fight before!

Plus, the story is more on par with what to expect from a comic book. Kowloon’s abilities were granted to him by dragons thought to be extinct; but in China, they are alive and in hiding! Not only in those tattoos he sports but also in the river that cuts through Shanghai. Unlike what they represent in European lore, they are definitely spirit guides here, and that’s where this film takes a supernatural turn. Anyone who is not familiar with animism in this country will be left scratching their heads, but I understood what writers Kee-To Lam and Fruit Chan (the latter also directing) was going for.

It’s a nice touch. Mixing in folklore can seem out of place for those expecting a simple gangster film. Perhaps what the team should have done was make a manhua instead of a movie.

3 Stars out of 5

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