A gang of treasure hunters, a trio of warriors rebelling against a corrupt establishment, a pregnant imperial maid threatened with execution and the agents sent to kill her all converge on the time and place where a great storm is prophesied to reveal the location of a legendary palace.
Tsui Hark is a veteran of the chop socky martial arts film and the opening act has quite a refreshingly old school feel to it. The heroes zip around the screen in a flurry of gravity-defying derring-do, the villains are of the moustache-twirling, irredeemable variety and the brightly coloured costumes, bombastic soundtrack and corny dialogue all add to a real sense of pantomime. Once the characters reach the Dragon Gate Inn however, it all starts to get a little messy; there are so many characters cluttering up the screen that it’s difficult to form any kind of bond with any of them, the plot becomes unnecessarily convoluted and the many threads don’t really tie together into any kind of coherent narrative.
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate is actually reasonably good fun while the swords and fists are flying but trying make sense of it all is a wasted effort. Rather crude by today’s standards, but its best moments are amusingly so.