Well, Doug Liman presents "The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman." I don't know what exactly this "presents" means, but I can tell you this.
"The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman" is an action comedy, and with "action sequences" small in number and all choppily edited, this is hardly a martial arts movie. (The trailer is a bit misleading.) The film is light on action and heavy on comedy. That itself is not a bad thing. What is disappointing is the film's one-note narrative that seems going on aimlessly.
As the title suggests, "The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman" consists of three stories interconnected with each other. In all three segments - Desire, Vengeance and Greed - appears the same kitchen cleaver that changes hands over years. The narrative device is similar to that of "The Red Violin," but is actually more ambitious. Maybe too ambitious.
The first segment is about a butcher smitten with a courtesan. This is followed by the second segment, "a story within a story" about a young cook. He is appointed by the restaurant's owner to serve dishes for a powerful and merciless Court Execution Officer Liu. In the middle of the narrative another tale begins, "a story within a story within a story," a tale of a greedy swordsman, which explains the origin of the kitchen cleaver.
To make this kind of complicated narrative style, you need to be a skilled storyteller like Christopher Nolan, which the director of "The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman" is simply not. The director is Wuershan, about whom I know nothing about. Certainly the director has unique visual styles (and the hip-hop part is pretty good), but most ideas like video game-inspired fights look dated or clichéd, and jokes are repetitious.
Blending traditional Chinese martial arts genre with Quentin Tarantino-like playful visual and narrative styles is a very good idea. Perhaps you remember "Sukiyaki Western Django," a Japanese cult film, in which Tarantino and Masanobu And˘, who plays the chef in "The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman" appear. Both films have great ideas and visual styles, and both are in need of interesting stories and characters, which classics like "Pulp Fiction" have.