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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 12,042 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

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Biao Yuen ...
Rosamund Kwan ...
Jacky Cheung ...
Kent Cheng ...
Kam-Fai Yuen ...
Kai
Shi-Kwan Yen ...
Iron Robe Yim (as Yee Kwan Yan)
Shun Lau ...
Naval Commander Lau
Ma Wu ...
Jian-Guo Chiu ...
Shaho Gang Leader
Cheung-Yan Yuen ...
Yim's Opponent
Chi Yeung Wong ...
Commander Man
Shun-Yee Yuen ...
Honorable Manchu Soldier
Xin Xin Xiong ...
Shaho Gang Member
Jonathan Isgar ...
Jackson
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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>

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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:

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to the commentary on the Region 1 DVD, this movie started out as a proposed new film to star Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biao. Jackie would have played Wong, (which he'd previously played in Drunken Master), Sammo would have played Butcher Wing (as he did in Lin Shi Rong), and Yuen would be Lueng Foon (who played the role in Lin Shi Rong). This idea fell through and only Yuen Biao made it into the finished film. See more »

Goofs

A 31-star US flag is seen shortly after an adult Wong Fei Hung attempts to defend the Po Chi Lam clinic from a fiery attack. The 31-star flag was used from July 4, 1851 to July 3, 1858. Wong Fei Hung was born on July 9, 1847, and so could not have been older than a few days shy of his eleventh birthday when this flag was still in use. Also, the rows of stars shown on the 31-star flag are inverted. The flag shown has rows of 7, 6, 6, 5, and 7 stars respectively (from top to bottom). The actual flag has rows of 7, 5, 6, 6, and 7 stars top to bottom. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Spoofed in The Legend (1993) 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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