10. It's political subtext. Sure, it's a tad over the top, but at least it has one. Our villain is Chinese authority; cold, sadistic, imposing, relentless and secretly pleased at having an excuse to wear leather boots. He undoubtably deserves a beating.
9. The bad guy clawing up his hands and assuming a kick boxing posture vs the kung-fu stance w/ boxing affectations that Bruce Lee made famous. Sweet. Li lacks the bouncy pop of his predecesor, preferring a simple shoulder bob to a full blown imitation. I thought overall the effect was subtle, a nod to Lee without simply aping him.
7. The 'just-missed-punch-eye-poke-slap'. Li will continue to work baddies left eye from hereon. Likewise, baddie is now conciously going to work Li's shoulder. All of which reminds me of what Rick Tocchet said upon returning from shoulder surgery and being asked if he thought that other teams would be targeting his shoulder; 'Of course. S'what I would do.' Is it less moral to deliberately blind an opponent when he is trying to separate your arm from it's socket?
6. Artfully framed shots. Once Li flips baddie into the courtyard and they start to fight out there, pause the film and take note of how the director breaks the background up visually into halves thirds and quandrants using the railings, ramps, rocks, and eventually swatches of bright red leaves, to frame the fighting taking place in the foreground.
5. Not content to merely try and blind his opponent, Li moves on to throat strikes followed by what appears even in slow motion to be a nose tweak/slap right out of the Three Stooges.
4. Like all great fights there has to be some modicum of challenge, and in this case, we have Jet Li forced to absorb a huge beating from the badguy after heaps of abuse to his right shoulder render it and the arm into just so much warm, limp, steak. Then as in all great fight scenes (including the aformentioned Lethal Weapon showdown) the hero must return dislocated shoulder to its home socket and resume the whoop-ass. Call this the shoulder socket rule. Keep in mind that in reality a separated shoulder being returned to its socket inexpertly could result in pinched nerves, tissue, etc. far worse than simply having it separated. Don't do this at home kids.
3. The latent homoeroticism officially erupts with Freudian frivolity at 5:20-22 when bad guy knocks over a rack of swords.
Too subtle? This is shortly followed by;
- Bad guy knocked onto ass, then rolls onto back and splays his legs. Grimaces as he does so.
- Series of abdomen blows render bad guy doubled over at crotch height for Li to wail on
- Li stands over bad guy in a position of superiority, bad guy gets out by driving his head upwards into Li's crotch and throwing him off.
That said, as unintentionally(?) homoerotic entertainment goes, this is nothing compared to the classic of all classics in this regard, 'Commando'.
2. The inevitable decision on the bad guys part to escalate the conflict by going for a sword after he should have admitted his inferiority and defeat. As all mover watchers know, this decision can only mean that the bad guy will be summarily killed.
1. Jet Li's decision to fight back against the sword wielding bad guy, not with a sword (which was available) but rather, his belt. Sweet.