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Originally published Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 3:31 PM

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Movie review

'Let the Bullets Fly': Chinese actioner is a propulsive blast

A movie review of "Let the Bullets Fly," a Chinese actioner starring Chow Yun-Fat. Jiang Wen directs with great vigor, serving up plenty of blood and a lot of laughs.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 3 stars

'Let the Bullets Fly,' with Jiang Wen, Chow Yun-Fat, Ge You. Directed by Jiang, from a screenplay by Jiang, Guo Junli, Wei Xiao, Li Bukong, Shu Ping and Zhu Sujin. 132 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains violence, language). In Mandarin and Cantonese, with English subtitles. SIFF Cinema at the Uptown.

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Deceptions fly as thick and fast as bullets in "Let the Bullets Fly." And there are ever so many bullets in this wild and colorful adventure comedy from China. It's the biggest box-office hit that country has ever produced.

Set in 1919, the picture is rife with robbers and killers and scoundrels. Everyone is crooked, and the main characters busy themselves playing dizzyingly complicated identity games with one another.

There's a bandit (Jiang Wen, who also directed and co-wrote the screenplay) who's masquerading as the incoming governor of a remote burg called Goose Town. There's the actual governor (Ge You), who's masquerading as an obsequious counselor to avoid getting bumped off by the bandit after surviving a cataclysmic train robbery pulled off by that same bandit. Finally, there's Goose Town's resident strongman (Chow Yun-Fat), a man of vast wealth and great cruelty who employs a body double to throw people off the scent who want to kill him.

The faux governor wants to get his hands on the strongman's loot. The weaselly counselor seeks to ingratiate himself with first the bandit, then the strongman in hopes of glomming onto the ill-gotten gains of one or both.

Honor among thieves? Ha! Everyone is scheming to undermine everyone else. And when schemes go awry, bullets start to fly.

Jiang directs with great vigor, serving up plenty of blood and a lot of laughs as he turns his picture into a propulsive blast.

Soren Andersen:

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