Kurt Loder on Let the Bullets Fly


Let the Bullets Fly is unapologetically an old-school western of the John Ford variety, writes Kurt Loder. The remote town in which the tale is set has a distinctively Asian architectural cast, but the dusty main street running through it lacks only hitching posts to be entirely familiar, and a requisite bordello is among the buildings fronting on it. A rowdy teahouse stands in for the customary barroom. And of course just about everyone is armed. So the genre trappings are strictly traditional. But what director Jiang Wen has really created here is a comedy of the most demented sort. The story is preposterously knotty, filled with double-dealings, doubled characters, murky disputes over bowls of jelly, and bloody disembowelings played for laughs. You can almost hear how the writers must have chortled as they slapped this thing together.