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Once Upon a Time in China (1991)
"Wong Fei Hung" (original title)

7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 11,669 users  
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Set in late 19th century Canton this martial arts film depicts the stance taken by the legendary martial arts hero Wong Fei-Hung (1847-1924) against foreign forces' (English, French and ... See full summary »

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Title: Once Upon a Time in China (1991)

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Biao Yuen ...
Rosamund Kwan ...
Jacky Cheung ...
Steve Tartalia ...
Tiger
Kent Cheng ...
Jonathan Isgar ...
Jackson
Shi-Kwan Yen ...
Iron Robe Yim (as Yee Kwan Yan)
Mark King ...
British general
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Bruce Fontaine ...
Policeman
Shun Lau ...
Naval Commander
Kien Shih ...
Old man who gives advise (Cameo)
Yuan-fa Tsao
Chien-Po Tsen
Chi Yeung Wong ...
Commander Man
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Storyline

Set in late 19th century Canton this martial arts film depicts the stance taken by the legendary martial arts hero Wong Fei-Hung (1847-1924) against foreign forces' (English, French and American) plundering of China. When Aunt Yee arrives back from America totally westernised, Wong Fei-Hung assumes the role of her protector. This proves to be difficult when his martial arts school and local militia become involved in fierce battles with foreign and local government. As violence escalates even Aunt Yee has to question her new western ideals, but is it possible to fight guns with Kung Fu? Written by Michele Wilkinson, University of Cambridge Language Centre, <mw125@cus.cam.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

15 August 1991 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

Once Upon a Time in China  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jet Li badly damaged his knee when Wong Fei Hung jumps out of the tea shop using his umbrella. For this reason a lot of the final fight was performed while Li was in plaster, meaning he had to be doubled for some of the moves. A lot of the shots are from the waist and above, to hide his plaster. See more »

Goofs

When Aunt Yee is fitting Fei-hung for a suit, she sees his shadow on the wall. Standing a few inches behind him, she traces his silhouette with her finger, obviously without touching him. However, when she touches his shadow ear, it flickers, meaning she actually touched his real ear. See more »

Quotes

Yim: No matter how good our kung-fu is, it will never defeat guns.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Matrix (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
There's more to martial arts cinema than arthouse self-indulgence or slapstick comedy
16 July 2002 | by (Staffordshire) – See all my reviews

Watched this again as an antidote to "The One". Jet Li's done some good films, some TERRIBLE films, and then again he's done a few genuine epics, like the Once upon a time in China series. These films are also among the best work of Tsui Hark.

The modern Wong Fei-Hung series contains elements of humour without being just broad slapstick (if you want kung fu comedy, rent a Jackie Chan film), but are mostly films about a troubled China where traditional values are being overwhelmed by Western style and influence. Iron-Robe Yim's line "you can't fight bullets with kung fu" resonates achingly with the failed boxer rebellion, during which chi-gung practitioners mistakenly believed they were protected from foreign guns.

Wong Fei-Hung's struggle to find an honourable, peaceful path through the collision between cultures should strike a chord with anyone who has moved on from chop-socky and realises that a kung fu movie can feature a great story as well as great cinematography.


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