Everyone takes away different things from a movie and in this one, I haven't got a good grip of what to take away with! Having Jet Li as its star actor guarantees me as a viewer though I'm not so sure that could be said for a Tsui Hark production and direction. That's probably why actors are often better paid than directors!
This is the 3-D version and it's my first movie of the year. The last one by Jet Li was The Sorcerer and The White Snake which I enjoyed a little more based on the direction. So, my conclusion is while it is entertaining to see Jet Li as the sorcerer (monk) he's boring as the swordman! He almost lost the commanding role and midas touch here!
The 3-D effect in this movie has seen much improvements over the last few (with some help from the Americans, I read after the movie). I had a good time with it. The story is lacking the punch much needed, I feel. Despite some surprises here and there and a wide cast in different roles, the theme of the story is not rooted in something bigger. For me, it feels a tad lacking.
What is interesting is the special effects and the few supporting actors and their acting. I thought the role (Yu Huatian, the villain) played by Aloys Chen is exceptionally good! It feels as if Jet Li was in the reverse supporting role! Unfortunately though, that didn't quite "saved" the movie for me. I did not go away the theater grounded nor did I feel that I must return for a sequel. The direction feels so much like Mummy Returns and although I was amazed to see how big the Chinese ship was back then (yeah, it was once a GREAT and powerful civilization and I did know the ships were gigantic during the times of Zheng He but to see it in that dimension is a quite something!).
All in all, the story is something like what one could have watched on the Chinese TV. The difference is that it's an updated and very much high-tech version lacking in substance! A wuxia film shot in 3-D with Aloys Chen (aka Chen Kun) as the star who deserves the recognition!!!
P.S. To be fair, this is a remake. It is no wonder it feels old
despite the technology. There is only so much technology can do and when it comes to the Chinese movie industry, remakes are more of a formula for failure than success! Naturally, there are some exceptions like White Vengeance