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Review Sakra a.k.a. Tin lung baat bou (2023): A must watch for me!

genre: martial arts, wuxia, drama

In my life, I must have seen many different wuxia films. And whether I wanted or not, I have noticed a lot of similarities between them. Apparently, there are certain elements attached to this genre that need to be there. Like for example tragic and bitter-sweet endings. Sakra is no different.

Usually, tragic and dramatic events don't bother me that much, as long as the action and spectacle makes up for it. So this is why when I come across a title where it's sheer tragedy and drama, I tend to rate them lower. In my defence, if a story is excellent, I will go along with it. However, if it's just drama for drama’s sake, I can't appreciate that. As an Asian (Indian descent) I can concur we have a high affinity for drama. My grandma would always watch these super dramatic films, which made her cry all the time. She used around a whole pack of tissues. When asked if she was OK, she said, such a good film. She lived for it. I know this might come across as strange for westerners, but take it from me, it's in our DNA. Naturally this comes through in literally works, plays and films. But for some reason they add on extra in wuxia films. Even when there is no real logical reason to do so.

One example, in Sakra, is the love relation between Donnie Yen's character (Kiu Fung) and Yuqi Chen's character (A Zhu). They meet, very little happens between them other than him nursing her back to health and bang, they are an item. Never once expressing their love. But you are supposed to feel for them, and you do, since compared to the rest of the characters in the film, they are the most likeable. Another example, is an event that easily could have been prevented had this couple talked. They both pretend to know what they are about and how they wouldn't stray away from their principles, even if this film proves again, and again, they aren't above it and will change their ways if it benefits them. Of course, this wouldn't lead to the tragic ending that is needed.

One thing I also noticed that may hinder the viewing experience is that the filmmakers expect you to know the stories. Since most of these stories are based on well known Chinese novels, they can't be bothered to go in detail concerning the characters. In this case, it's Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils. I am probably not alone in this that I know absolutely nothing about this story. And from the way the story is told I can tell a lot of events and characterization is skipped on. I wished they wouldn't do this, since I do believe they are doing the film an injustice. 

That being said, I bought the 4K version of Sakra, since it was on sale, and I was real curious to find out what I would think of it. And honestly, I was pleasantly surprised. I used to love wire works, but over time I became to love it less since my preference went to more realistic minded action. But the wire works in this film is excellent. The action rocks. It's hard-hitting and fantastical at the same time. I knew that Donnie Yen wouldn't fail me in this department. On top of that, the film is stunning. It's actually visually beautiful. The music also adds to the whole experience. You do feel like you are in this fantasy world where people like Fung can fly and fight as if he were a god. So definitely a must-watch for me. But yes, patience is required when it comes to the story and drama.

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