Hard Boiled [Egg]
Enter the Fat Dragon involves fart jokes, naked butts, bad wigs, and other childish antics. Yet, although centered around cop Donnie Yen turning portly after a demotion, it never makes a fat joke. Yen runs down bad guys, parkours across rooftops, and kicks bad guys as if he never put on the weight. It’s not a movie seeking the easiest comic out.
When the humor punches down, Enter the Fat Dragon does so at the Japaneses’ expense. Sent from Hong Kong to Tokyo, Yen comes up against drug-running Yakuza, but equally so the corrupt local police. Japan look lawless, a brutal nation; Enter the Fat Dragon isn’t subtle in its nationalist goals and looks to chastise a political rival in the process. There’s not a competent Japanese cop in the story, flagrantly showing their bias and disinterest in criminal enterprise.
Enter the Fat Dragon gives Lee’s opus a nod
Enter the Fat Dragon gives Lee’s opus a nod
Thankfully, there’s plenty to like. Yen is a delight, calling on his best Jackie Chan routine with each action set piece (even a direct Buster Keaton Cameraman nod). Comic flourishes faultlessly slip into choreography, a few dismal visual effects aside. A rumble in a fish market involves a cocaine-high partner Thor (Jing Wong), recklessly driving a forklift, this alongside Yen utilizing the countless props to his advantage. Visually, it’s appropriately goofy, vigorously energetic with a splendid creative spark.
In-between, Enter the Fat Dragon lags, dealing in dopey romance and predictable story beats. The script toys with Yen’s previous output in references, then paying homage to Bruce Lee and the Sammo Hung-starring title of the same name circa 1978. Enter the Fat Dragon gives Lee’s opus a nod, but the finished film nicely addresses the entire genre through this parody. Jurisdictional debates further denigrate cop dramas, giving those cliches a thin escape from criticism.
Juvenile gags do reduce Enter the Fat Dragon’s allure, but it’s speedy enough to whip past any failed material; editing doesn’t let anything linger. Given the title choice, the surprise stems from how little Yen’s weight gain factors in. People notice, but only villains bully him, and the ensuing acrobatics dismiss the idea that martial arts belong only to those sporting abs. Closing credits leave an inspiring, short monologue to be one’s self no matter their looks, a spirited send off for something so openly celebrating well conceived, dopey action.
Well Go brings this effort Stateside, the Blu-ray waning in visual might. Whether the source or their encode isn’t clear, most of the time anyway. It seems digital smoothing covers seams in Yen’s fat suit makeup, leaving behind remnants. Either he looks unnaturally glossy or noise swarms for the cause. Other anomalies like flickering, aliasing, and ringing reduce the natural clarity possible in the digitally captured source.
At its best, slight texture squeezes through. Resolution maintains itself to keep things sharp. Close-ups inconsistently score facial detail.
Heavy color makes up for some of those misgivings, highly saturated to bring out the city studio sets and their thick signage. Grading pushes toward a slight warm excess in spots, if still pleasing in primary boldness. Thank the assist from contrast and deep, satisfying black levels too.
Punches land and deliver small LFE bursts. Enter the Fat Dragon isn’t one to stretch its range. Overall bass stays lean aside from a grenade explosion early on. Even that isn’t impressive.
In Cantonese 5.1 (a 2.0 also offered, but no dub), gunfire spreads across the soundstage. When a helicopter sweeps around the last fight, it does so with accurate positioning. Action audibly keeps pace, nicely discrete as objects drop into rears or stereos.
Just some trailers.
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Enter the Fat Dragon
Willing to go all-in on its immaturity while paying homage to the kung fu genre, Enter the Fat Dragon refuses to slow down.
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