SHOT on location in China, this is an intentionally overblown martial arts romp, which harks back to the classics of the genre.
It’s a clumsy and often garish homage that doesn’t allow a sloppy script, wayward performances or an incongruous soundtrack of R&B and hip-hop to distract from the bone-crunching thrills and spills.
Actors fly around the screen on wires, gleefully defying gravity with acrobatic kicks and somersaults and skirmishes are breathlessly choreographed by fight co-ordinator Corey Yuen, who has worked closely with Jet Li. Here, he demolishes swathes of a lawless 19th Century Chinese village as two clans battle for supremacy and contrives a showdown between two brutes with metallic bodies.
Initially, women are treated as playthings, to be bedded then discarded. Writer-director RZA and co-writer Eli Roth dodge a bullet marked Rampant Sexism by transforming these simpering femmes into an army of merciless harpies for the grand finale.
Gold Lion, leader of a fearsome band of warriors, is murdered by ambitious successor Silver Lion (Byron Mann) who steals the Emperor’s gold and hides it in catacombs beneath the Pink Blossom brothel.
Swordsman Zen Yi (Rick Yune), son of Gold Lion and rightful heir, declares war on his father’s murderer and gets support from the local blacksmith (RZA) and womanising British soldier Jack Knife (Russell Crowe, pictured). The slapdash film is a mess but has undeniable pleasures.