Something is rotten in the court of the Ming Emperor. The court eunuchs have used their power as civil servants to create their own secret police, utterly ruthless, supremely powerful and accountable to no-one but their own shadowy masters. There are two rival factions, the East Chamber and the West Chamber. The valiant fighter Zhao, a former general who was stripped of his rank by the eunuchs, leads a patriotic resistance against these villains, the Gestapo of their day.
When one of the Emperor’s concubines sets out to become the only woman who will bear the Emperor an heir, she conspires with the eunuchs of the Western Chamber to have all other pregnant concubines assassinated. But one pregnant girl escapes. The eunuchs track her to a huge riverboat and are about to put her to the sword when she is rescued by Zhao – or is it someone pretending to be Zhao?
Both sides converge on Dragon Inn, an isolated way-station in the great desert of the West, close to the border of the empire. The inn has a long history as a center for patriotic resistance to the corruption of the court. Zhao and his allies – plus the rescued pregnant girl – come to the inn and form an allegiance with its owner Jade and her staff. As the deadly forces of the Western Chamber bear down on the inn to put an end to Zhao’s rebellion, matters are complicated by the arrival of a gang of Tartar bandits who have caught scent of some treasure rumored to be hidden in or buried under the inn. The three-way confrontation produces some startling cat-and-mouse games … and several big surprises.
Near the inn, though, stand two great stones known as the Dragon Gate. They are a portal to a lost city, a great citadel built by an earlier civilization, now buried under the endless desert sands. It’s said that once every sixty years a massive tornado will come and swirl the sands away to reveal the contours of the lost city and bring its hidden riches to light. And as the tensions between the patriots, the eunuchs and the bandits reach boiling point, the ‘black sandstorm’ tornado shows up right on cue …
This movie has been digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience® with IMAX DMR® technology. The crystal-clear images coupled with IMAX’s customized theatre geometry and powerful digital audio create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie.