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Nationalism flavors film

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"The Taking of Tiger Mountain," a protracted, oddly proportioned Chinese war picture from the action director Tsui Hark, begins in New York, as Jimmy (Han Geng), about to leave for a Silicon Valley job, attends a farewell celebration.

‘THE TAKING OF TIGER MOUNTAIN’
Not rated
* *
Opens Friday at Pearlridge West

The movie then flashes back to 1946 China, where a squad of the Communist People’s Liberation Army works to root out bandits. The premise, with fighters helping villagers, bears a resemblance to "Seven Samurai."

The source of the residents’ terror is Hawk (Tony Leung Ka-fai), a bandit leader who plots to rule northeast China. An investigator from the soldiers’ group, Yang (Zhang Hanyu), infiltrates Hawk’s fortress as a spy. His success is rarely in doubt: Even before he arrives at the bandits’ lair, he fights a tiger to the death.

That sequence has clearly been designed for 3-D, but in North America the film is being released in 2-D. And you cannot help but feel shortchanged by this as the movie unfolds with a swooping camera, spurting blood, airborne knives, falling rocks, cannon fire and a covert raid by ski.

The material is adapted from Qu Bo’s novel "Tracks in the Snowy Forest," the basis for "Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy," one of eight model operas produced during the Cultural Revolution. With its fanfare score, the movie has a nationalistic, didactic flavor and a tiresome devotion to spectacle. Even the climax is staged two ways.

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