Wen has proven to be a sophisticated and provocative director, most notably with the difficult yet engrossing Devils on the Doorstep (2000). Let the Bullets Fly might seem a departure, an unashamedly commercial venture, a raucous action comedy set in frontier China, but the real joy to be found in Wen's film is in its biting and pointed subtext.
Yun-fat, as cunning crime lord Huang, is at his imperious best, whilst Wen himself owns the screen as bandit Zhang, each actor clearly relishing their roles as morally bankrupt individuals working the angles for purely selfish ends. The sheer level of double-crossing, double identities and double entendre can be confusing at times, but to the credit of Wen, it is always entertaining and at times very amusing. The acclaimed director knows exactly how to get the most out of his locations, with an almost Leone-esque eye for sprawling vistas and sweaty close-ups.
With its expansive script and complex themes, Wen still manages to deliver an entertaining, engaging and engrossing film and arguably one of the best commercial movies to come out of China for many years. Let the Bullets Fly must surely mark Wen out as one of the best commercial directors working in China at this point in time.
Spencer Murphy (CUEAFS)