Dragon (15) 95 mins ***
Peter Ho-Sun Chan has directed films on both sides of the Pacific, and this brisk and twisty actioner, though set in 1917 China, bears marked Western influences. It begins in CSI territory, with forensically minded acupuncturist Takeshi Kaneshiro dispatched to investigate after lowly paper maker Donnie Yen kills a notorious criminal with an innocuous blow to the head. The character study that follows – after Kaneshiro’s pinpointed how that tooth got in the pickling jar, and the significance of the vagus nerve – has clear DNA traces of Cronenberg’s A History of Violence. Chan keeps the drama and fight scenes appreciably precise, while superior performers lend the hard science heart: Lust, Caution’s Wei Tang makes a welcome screen return, wringing a lot from worried glances as the accused’s wife, while Yen again proves one of the few martial artists equally adept with subtler emotional beats.
Dragon is in selected cinemas.