About half of the climactic fights feel alive and important, but the rest of the film is leaden, both in imagery and plot. Deng Chao is serviceable as the hero, but as the villain, he grinds the film to a po-faces halt every scene.
The film commits to a heightened, almost Mannerist energy nearly the whole way through; it only collapses into a conventional sentimentality midway through the protracted ending. There’s a number of really nice cinematographical grace notes.
The script doesn't thread the needle between the overtly allegorical nature of all the characters and the incredibly specifically human humiliations visited upon Lawrence, nor does everything map out perfectly in the extended metaphor. That said, the parts that do work are astounding.