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Dragon Inn 

Wednesday, May 4 2016
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Hailing from a time when movies often had titles more than two words long, King Hu's 1967 wuxia classic Dragon Inn— more commonly known as Dragon Gate Inn — has been given a 4K remastering. If the story is familiar, it's only because it's been used in centuries of Chinese fiction beforehand and countless movies since. During the eventful Ming dynasty, powerful eunuch Cao (Bai Ying) is seeking to destroy the family of a minister, who take refuge at the Dragon Gate Inn, where badass swordsman Xiao (Shi Jun) and even badder-ass swordswoman Miss Chu (Shang Kuan Ling-Feng) take on Cao's forces. The gravity-defying stunt work so associated with the genre is accomplished through judicious editing, but otherwise, Dragon [Gate] Inn lets its swordplay breathe in long takes that are as much about the opponents sizing each other up as attacking.Fast-paced it is not, and an irony of this unquestionably important film getting a digital scrubbing is that it often looks as though it could have been filmed in some scrubby part of Southern California. But that adds to the low-even-for-1967-budget charm, as does the echo-y post-production dialogue and burbly analogue synth that kicks in during final battle. Dragon [Gate] Inn has perhaps been improved upon technically, but the original still deserves a look.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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