Dragon (2011 film)

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Swordsmen 2011 film.jpg
Hong Kong film poster
Mandarin Wǔ xiá
Cantonese Mou2 Hap6
Directed by Peter Chan
Produced by Peter Chan
Huang Jianxin
Jojo Hui
Written by Aubrey Lam
Starring Donnie Yen
Takeshi Kaneshiro
Tang Wei
Music by Chan Kwong-wing
Peter Kam
Dou Wei
Chatchai Pongprapaphan
Cinematography Lai Yiu-fai
Jake Pollock
Edited by Derek Hui
We Pictures
Stellar Mega Films
Dingsheng Cultural Industry Investment
Jiangsu Broadcasting Corporation
Yunnan Film Group
Distributed by We Distributions
Lark Films Distribution
Release dates
Running time 116 minutes
Country Hong Kong[1]
Language Standard Mandarin
Cantonese (HK)[3][4]
Box office US$29,140,858[5]

Dragon (Chinese: 武俠; pinyin: Wǔ xiá) is a 2011 Hong Kong-Chinese martial arts film directed by Peter Chan, and starring Donnie Yen, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tang Wei.[6] Yen also served as the film's action director. It premiered on 13 May 2011 at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival in the Midnight Screenings category.[7] Donnie Yen and Peter Chan presided over the lighting of a billboard for Dragon that broke the Guinness Book of World Records for its size, 3591 square metres, previously held by a poster for a Michael Jackson album.[8]


The film is set in 1917 in early Republican China at Liu Village on the border of Yunnan...

Liu Jinxi and his wife Yu are an ordinary couple with two sons, Fangzheng and Xiaotian, living together in Liu Village. One day, two bandits enter the village and attempt to rob the general store. Liu Jinxi happens to be in the shop and he fights with the robbers when they turn violent towards the shopkeeper and his family. He kills them during the fight. During an autopsy, the detective Xu Baijiu, who is sent to investigate the case, discovers that one of the dead bandits was Yan Dongsheng, who is among the government's ten most wanted fugitives. The local magistrate is pleased, and Liu Jinxi is regarded as a hero by his fellow villagers.

However, Xu becomes suspicious because he does not believe that Yan Dongsheng, a fighter, can be easily killed by Liu, who appears to be a mere paper worker. Xu notes signs of brain hemorrhaging due to an injury to Yan Dongsheng's vagus nerve. From those signs, the accounts of the fight by Liu and others, as well as traces of evidence in the shop, Xu concludes that Liu is in fact a highly skilled martial artist. From subsequent observation, investigation and tests, and information gathered by his partner, Xu learns of Liu's true identity. Liu is actually Tang Long, the second-in-command of the 72 Demons, a group of vicious and bloodthirsty warriors of Tangut descent, who brutally murdered a butcher's family in Jingzhou ten years ago. Xu immediately returns to the county office to obtain an arrest warrant for Tang Long.

The magistrate delays issuing the warrant, citing lack of evidence while actually soliciting a bribe from Xu. Xu eventually obtains the bribe money from his estranged wife, who blames him for causing her father's suicide. After issuing the warrant, the magistrate informs the Master of the 72 Demons on Tang Long's whereabouts, hoping to receive a reward. The Master is offended and reveals that Tang is actually his son, and he kills the magistrate by severing his vagus nerve.

The Master sends his henchmen to Liu Village to capture Tang and burn down the place. While Xu and the constables are on their way there, two henchmen reach the village and kill a villager to force Tang to acknowledge his identity. Tang can no longer control himself and he fights and kills one of the two assailants and runs away. The other assailant, who is the Master's wife, chases Tang and fights with him in the buffalo shed; she is crushed by the buffaloes in the stampede and falls in the river. Tangs tries to save her by holding her hand but she falls to her death. The remaining villagers retreat to a fortress to hide from the 72 Demons while Tang and Xu stay behind. In the meantime, Xu devises a plan, utilising his knowledge of physiology, for Tang to fake his death so the 72 Demons will no longer harass him. When the Demons arrive, they lament over Tang's death but Xu knows that Tang cannot remain in his "death" state for too long, so when the time is up, he revives Tang. Tang severs his left arm in front of the Demons, announcing that he has formally broken ties with them, but they also tell him that the Master is waiting for him at his house.

When Tang reaches home he sees that the Master has taken his family hostage. After a tense encounter, the Master declares that he will let Tang go but he must take Xiaotian's blood as a trade. Tang is enraged and he attacks the Master with a broadsword but to no avail, since the Master uses qigong to protect himself from the blade. Xu infiltrates the house through a hatch and he weakens the Master's defense during the fight by piercing his heel with an acupuncture needle from underneath the floor. The Master is angered and incapacitates Xu. Tang continues fighting but is quickly overpowered by the Master. Just as the Master prepares to kill Tang, Xu notices the needle still stuck in his heel and takes him by surprise, planting another needle in the Master's neck. The Master is unfazed and mortally wounds Xu by slamming him hard to the ground. The top needle acts as a lightning rod, and in combination with the bottom needle acting as an earthing wire, the Master is charred by a lightning strike, killing him. Xu, with his dying breath, declares the case closed. The ending scene of the film shows a now one-armed Tang Long leading a normal life with his family or he may have just kept walking to continue onto a new path.


  • Donnie Yen as Liu Jinxi, who is actually Tang Long, the son of the Master.
  • Takeshi Kaneshiro as Xu Baijiu, a detective versed in physiology and acupuncture. He is a native of Wenjiang, Sichuan, so he speaks Sichuanese.
  • Tang Wei as Yu, Liu Jinxi's wife.
  • Jimmy Wang as the Master, the leader of the 72 Demons and Tang Long's father.
  • Kara Hui as 13th Madam, the Master's wife.
  • Li Xiaoran as Xu Baijiu's estranged wife
  • Jiang Wu as Xu Baijiu's investigator
  • Zheng Wei as Liu Fangzheng, Yu's son from her previous marriage who was adopted by Liu Jinxi.
  • Li Jiamin as Liu Xiaotian, Liu Jinxi and Yu's son.
  • Ethan Juan as the young convict, who poisoned his parents and attempted to kill Xu Baijiu.
  • Chun Hyn as the tavern owner
  • Wan To-shing as Xu Kun, one of the 72 Demons.
  • Yu Kang as Yan Dongsheng, a wanted criminal killed by Liu Jinxi.

Awards and nominations[edit]

31st Hong Kong Film Awards

  • Nominated: Best Actress (Tang Wei)
  • Nominated: Best Supporting Actor (Jimmy Wang)
  • Nominated: Best Supporting Actress (Kara Hui)
  • Won: Best Cinematography
  • Nominated: Best Editing
  • Nominated: Best Art Direction
  • Nominated: Best Costume Design
  • Nominated: Best Action Cherography
  • Nominated: Best Visual Effects
  • Won: Best Original Score
  • Nominated: Best Original Song


Justin Chang of Variety describes the film as "a satisfyingly sinewy fusion of martial-arts actioner and brain-tickling noir from busy producer-director Peter Ho-sun Chan. Channeling David Cronenberg's A History of Violence by way of 1917 China, this clever if over-amped thriller tackles themes of identity, honor and the latent killer instinct with a playful spirit that's never at odds with its underlying seriousness."[2] Maggie Lee of The Hollywood Reporter describes it as "an exhilarating martial arts entertainment that modernizes the genre while re-emphasizing its strong points."[9]

Box office[edit]

The film topped China's box office and grossed over 100 million yuan (US$15.6 million) in its first opening week.[10]


The idea of making Dragon reportedly started when Donnie Yen and Peter Chan were having a conversation and realised that both of them have a passion for the martial arts films of the 1960s and 1970s, especially One-Armed Swordsman (1967), the film directed by Chang Cheh that propelled actor Jimmy Wang (who played the titular protagonist) to stardom. Peter Chan explained that Dragon is a homage to One-Armed Swordsman, but not a remake or re-imagination in any form. The decision to have Donnie Yen's character lose an arm was confirmed after filming had started, and due to the fact that many people had the impression that Dragon was a remake of One-Armed Swordsman.


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