This is a movie which I hate to score lowly, but I'd explain why. It disappointed me in too many areas which I do not expect Tsui Hark to. What I was happy to see, is that Tsui Hark has a relatively better story than his previous works (the horrible Vampire crap). However, this is story does have some reminisces of "The Seven Samurai", and it does bother me somewhat. That aside, the story seems to be its only redeeming factor - which isn't saying a lot since it didn't feel all too original for me.
The Bads: Terrible editing. Granted, some are the censors' work (f@$# the censorship board), but many others are obviously not. It brings back memories of Chinese Martial arts movie made in the early 90s, like "Wong fei hong", which means technically, it feels like something shot in the past. Or shot by someone living in the past.
Bad framing, bad shots. I can't believe Tsui Hark uses so many "close shots" of fighting that does not appropriately showcase the action sequences. Why why why?? There was only 1 memorable fight scene that was shot in a tight corridor where both fighters bounce between the tight walls, but the crappy editing and shots diluted it. The rest of the fighting scenes were nothing compared to, let's say those in "Flying Daggers" (a movie i loved for its technicality but hated the story). Considering that Zhang Yimou never started off as a fighting director, he outleaped Tsui Hark by leaps and bounds in just a few attempts (Hero, Daggers).
The fancy costumes in this film, also does not serve to improve the movie's look and feel. There was a female/lesbian killer with a funky hairstyle, who seemed to be given quite a bit of screentime/attention throughout the movie, but who eventually didn't serve any purpose to deepen the story. Her character was totally redundant. Nothing to say where she is from, no development on her character, and then suddenly killed.
Is this one of the better Tsui Hark movies? Yes actually it is. But compared to his peers, he's still living in the past. He needs better collaborators to bring a more modern look to his flicks. This is so frustrating, because Tsui Hark has his share of fans, worldwide (including myself), who would love to see him break out with a great masterpiece again. But his recent works just seems like he couldn't break out of his own mould. Very Frustrating ....