- April 25th, 2020
- Silver Harvest Support
Asian cinema is both an artform and a genre in itself. With it’s action-focused plots and intricate kung fu fight sequences, it has it’s fair share of attractors and detractors. Those who love the genre love it, those who hate it often find ways to make fun of it without understanding the underlining reasoning behind it. Many often parody it because of it’s often over-the-top nature.
Rarely do you see a short film like Dragon of the Law which is one of those short films that serves as a showcase for the tricks of the trade when it comes to filmmaking and homaging 80s Hong Kong cinema. While short films are often diverse when it comes to content and the filmmakers behind it, rarely do you see someone attempt to take a stab at 80s Hong Kong cinema, even rarer you see the filmmakers being of Asian descent.
This film is mainly one big fight sequence that showcase a huge amount of filmmaking tricks used in order to both fuel the low budget aesthetic and pay homage at the same time with actors who actually know kung fu executing perfectly timed (sometimes off for the effect) moves. This is in lieu of an actual plot which at times makes the film feel like more of a showcase for the filmmakers tricks rather than a film in itself.
I’ll admit, it’s editing and cinematography is tight, utilizing pitch perfect timing to give the shots filmed that punch and pizzaz. I myself an amazed at the technique used in this film; many shots use several angles in order to showcase the detailed moves of which the film seeks to emphasize. They really get up close and personal with several of the shots to really get the feeling that this is a bloody fight, that this is true-to-honest kung fu. The way they ultimately put together the shots really gives the fight a unique vibe that transcends the retro aesthetic and ultimately opens doors for the filmmakers in a good way.
The thing that brings it down is the lack of plot and lack of characterization, making it feel like we’re watching a directors demo tape instead of a filmmaker attempting to break the mold. While the film is faithful to it’s aesthetic and while I liked the technique used in the making of said film. Plot is as important to a film as action, especially in several action films (including kung fu films). Without a plot, a film ultimately becomes unmemorable no matter how good everything else is. Sure, everything else here is good but without a plot, it’s just another short film.
But it is a good short film nonetheless, if you’re in the mood for some kung fu and you like a kung fu film to be faithful and you want to support some good filmmakers who have honest intentions (especially in regards to Asian filmmaking) then this is for you. Just don’t expect much in terms of plot.