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Dragon Gate Inn
Dragon Inn / Die Herberge zum Drachentor

Taiwan 1966
produced by
Sha Jung-Feng for Union Film
directed by King Hu
starring Shih Jun, Polly Shang Kwan, Hsu Feng, Pai Ying, Tien Miao, Tien Peng, Cho Gin, Go Ming, Got Siu Bo, Phillip Ko, Han Ying Chieh, Man Chung San, Min Tin, Ngai Ping Ngo
written by King Hu, martial arts choreography by Han Ying Chieh, music by Chou Lan Ping

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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In the Ming dynasty, mighty eunuch Tsao Chow Shih wants to augment the power he already has, and to that end, he has Ue, a mighty minister, executed on false charges. But not enough with that, he also wants to kill his family, who are already in the hands of the imperial guards, so he sends out general Shao Tan and his agents from the East Agency to intercept them at the Dragon Gate and have them killed.

So the East Agency soon sets up camp at the Dragon Gate Inn, throws all other guests out and bullies, occasionally even kills, the personnel ... that is until swordfighter Xiao (Shih Jun) stops by, who isn't impressed by the agents' bullying and pays every attempt to hurt or even kill him back in kind. Eventually Shao Tan comes to accept that the inn has another guest, especially since the innkeeper Wu insists that he is a friend of his ...

Then two more guests arrive, brother and sister Ju Li and Ju Hui, fine swordfighters as well who won't be bullied - and it soon becomes clear that they want to protect Ue's family ... but unfortunately they at first think that Xiao, not the East Agents, is the assassin.

Once they realize their error though, Ju Li, Ju Hui, Xiao and innkeeper Wu - who was once a general under Ue - decide to work together in protecting Ue's family, and the very next day they set out to interceptz them before they reach the Dragon Gate - but too late, somehow the Ues get to the Dragon Gate while our heroic quartet is out looking for them. In a violent battle, our heroes not only manage to regain control over the inn and free the Ues from the East Agency, they also manage to kill general Shao Tan - much to the dismay of the eunuch Tsao Chow Shih, who, a master swordfighter and martial artist way mre skilled than our heroes, now decides to take things into his own hands, and soon enough he intercepts them when they are on the way to bring the Ues to safety ...

Our heroes know that they only have one chance: To keep Tsao Chow Shih occupied fighting, as he suffers from asthma, and only when they have him all exhausted they can give him the final blow - finally they succeed, but the battle leaves many of our heroes dead or fatally wounded - but the Ues are in safety now.

 

After the success of his Come Drink with Me (also 1966), director King Hu decided to leave Hong Kong, and his production company, the Shaw Brothers, for Taiwan, to direct films for the Union Film Company. Now one might argue if that sounds like a clever move, his first film, Dragon Gate Inn however became one of the most successful East Asian films of its time and is held in high regards by critics and fans alike even today ...

... and what can I say: A truly great swordplay/martial arts-film, a film that equally relies on first-class action, intelligent story and interesting characterizations far beyond the usual good-evil dichotomy, and a film that is not carried by the same dry seriousness like many other swordplay-films of its time (including the early Chang Cheh-films) but manages to bring a light approach to the serious proceedings. Of course, beautiful cinematography and influences from the Western and Japanese samurai films do not hurt either.

Highest recommendation.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD