As someone who found asian cinema only recently, I have yet to see the movie that this is based on. As for this remake, it pretty much offers what you came to expect from a Tsui Hark-film: lush cinematography, vibrant sets, rousing action, and a tidy amount of pathos and kitsch.
Like with his “Detective Dee”-movies, he again goes back into the past, although not quite as far. “The Taking of Tiger Mountain” is set during the Chinese revolution after the Second World War. He uses this backdrop for lots of great, gripping action scenes that are made in his classic, sweeping style, with lots of slow-motion, and also a couple of bullet time-effects thrown in for good measure. The sets are big and lavish, with the hideout of the bad guy a particular standout. The CGI, however, is surprisingly uneven. Interestingly enough, everything that depicts something from nature looks incredibly well, with the tiger a particular standout, who looked so life-like that I couldn’t believe my eyes. Absolutely stunning work (which is true for the entire sequence, which by far was the highlight of the movie for me). However, whenever they try to create something technical – like the jeep that’s get hit by an explosion – it looks surprisingly weak. There were a couple of other things that stood out for me. For example, I found the idea of throwing a party for the gangster boss quite funny, and immediately wondered what Blofeld’s birthday party would look like. What I found weird was the fact that there were basically two showdowns between Yang Zirong and the Hawk. It’s almost as if Tsui Hark couldn’t decide which showdown to feature, so he decided to simply make both. Don’t get me wrong, the second one was quite thrilling (and reminded me a little bit of a scene from “Captain America”, with a similar retro-adventure-charm), but it was strange nonetheless. With 141 minutes, “The Taking of Tiger Mountain” also overstays its welcome a little bit. Even though it was the first movie of the day and I slept quite well the night before, I had to fight a little bit in order to keep awake, especially during the middle part. My biggest complaint, however, is the framing device, which felt completely unnecessary to me, and which led to an incredibly kitschy and stupid last scene that had me rolling my eyes. If they would have cut those scenes, and tightened the rest of the film, this could have been a great, gripping adventure movie. As it is, “The Taking of Tiger Mountain” was ok, but a little too long to keep me entertained throughout.