Newest Reviews
Vast of Night, The
Furies, The
Days of the Bagnold Summer
Black Power Mix Tape 1967-1975, The
Apartment 1BR
Looking On the Bright Side
Take Me Somewhere Nice
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Gentlemen Broncos
To the Stars
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The
Mystery Team
Newest Articles
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
  Dragon Inn Dread And Breakfast
Year: 1967
Director: King Hu
Stars: Shih Chun, Shangguan Lingfeng, Bai Ying, Hsu Feng, Tsao Chien, Hsieh Han, Ah-Tsai, Han Ying-Chieh, Simon Hsu, Kao Fei, Kao Ming, Ko Hsiao Pao, Li Chieh, Lui Chu, Lu Shih, Miao Tien, Tien Peng, Tsai Wei, Paula Tsui, Wan Chung Shan, Wen Tien, Yu Chi-Kong
Genre: Action, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the mid-Fifteenth Century, and in China the Ming Dynasty are holding sway over the land, but the eunuchs in service of the Emperor have instigated a reign of terror which sees the Minister of Defence executed on the orders of Eunuch Shao (Bai Ying) who takes great pleasure in watching the man’s head leave his shoulders. However, there is still a threat to the power he and his associates wield, as the Yu family the Minster belonged to can fight back if Shao is not careful, therefore he has the children exiled out of the country. But there is an ulterior motive for this, as the plan is to execute the two offspring when they are out on the road, far away from anyone who could report the crime. That is until the time to do the deed arrives, and an unexpected development…

Dragon Inn, also known as Dragon Gate Inn or originally Long men kezhan in its native Taiwan, went down in history as a classic almost from the moment it was released to great acclaim and perhaps more importantly, great takings at the box office in the Far East. It was director King Hu’s next film to follow his breakout hit Come Drink with Me, and as that was a success he was offered a bigger budget to play with, with a more lavish look as a result. More than many of its contemporaries, this was the Eastern equivalent of a Western, as it owed something to Howard Hawks’ cult favourite and indeed financial success Rio Bravo once its characters are stuck out in the middle of nowhere in the inn of the title.

The bad guys arrive there and order the innkeeper and his staff not to allow anyone else to stay in any of the rooms for the next few days, not sharing with them their reasons, though we know it is to destroy what remains of the Yu family, those two siblings having escaped the blade thanks to the intervention of some kindly souls. So far, this has been very involved as you feel you must keep up with the connections and motives of every character, which can make it appear like hard work in those early stages, but once a certain fellow arrives you recognise we were in the basic goodies versus baddies territory of many a genre movie, from Westerns to gangster thrillers to Asian swordplay movies, which this essentially was once it had sorted its plot out.

That significant chap was Xiao Shazi, played by Shi Chun, not maybe the highest profile of the Chinese movie stars in the West, but one with a cult following at the very least in the East. Here his rather cadaverous, Ivan Lendl-esque visage belied the fact that you might expect him to play the villain, for we already had plenty of those, no, Xiao was a good guy through and through who decides to step in when he sees a massive injustice being carried out. Or attempted to, as there’s a snag for the evildoers when they try to poison wandering swordsman Xiao when he sups his repast at the inn; he outfoxes them and has soon demonstrated in spite of his morbidly cheerful countenance he is not a man to be messed with, and has the skills to send them all packing with their tails between their legs.

Presently we were in the premise familiar from many a genre flick, from Rio Bravo to Night of the Living Dead to Assault on Precinct 13, all equally as culty as Dragon Inn, which like the Hawks movie had the advantage of respectability thanks to being widely lauded. What we were here for was a selection of action sequences as the swords flash and clang, Xiao bringing together the defenders of the Yu family to clash with their would-be assassins, and you would not be disappointed in that regard, though the choreography was superseded in its athleticism by the films that were inspired by King Hu’s groundbreaking efforts here, which may leave modern viewers feeling the pace was a little off in light of what came after. Nevertheless, it all built up to a bloody battle as Xiao and his team (notably Shangguan Lingfeng as a woman warrior on as impressive form as Shi Jun) take on the big boss man Eunuch Shao, Bai Ying delineated as a threat by dint of his bleached blonde locks, not that this stops Xiao taking the mickey out of him and his lack of manhood. Overall, for a film that set so many conventions in the style, Dragon Inn held up very well once you had who was doing what to whom worked out. Music by Chow Lang-Ping (including electronic effects!).

[Eureka's Masters of Cinema Blu-ray has a detailed booklet and featurettes (including footage of the premiere) as extras, and boasts the fully restored transfer which leaves the film looking as good as it ever did.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 1543 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith


Last Updated: