Synopsis by Nathan Southern
This action-fantasy opus from Hong Kong director Gordon Chan - a co-production of Hong Kong, China and Singapore with a predominantly Chinese cast - represents at least the third screen incarnation of a famous macabre Asian short story from the Qing Dynasty. (Prior versions emerged in 1966 and 1993). The setting is the Yuan Dynasty of the 13th and 14th centuries. As the tale opens, soldiers rescue a resplendent orphan girl, Xiao Wei (Zhou Xun) from desert bandits. She is taken in by General Wang (Chen Kun) and his wife Peirong (Vicki Zhao), who lavish attention on her, but three months into the unofficial adoption, a bizarre series of events befalls the city: a gruesome serial killer begins striking all over the map, killing his victims by ripping out human hearts. Deeply distrustful of the young girl and suspicious that she may actually be a bloodthirsty demon disguised as a human, Peirong summons the help of General Pan Yong (Donnie Yen), a washed-up, burnt-out alcoholic who has formally retired from military service. Lo and behold, as it turns out, Pan has befriended a Chinese ghostbuster, Xia Bing (Sun Li), who, as it turns out, has been chasing Xiao for years in revenge for her ghastly murder of one of his relatives.
alcoholism, demon, dynasty, paranoia, serial-killer