7.4/10
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Once Upon a Time in China (1991)

Wong Fei Hung (original title)
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2:01 | Trailer

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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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, (as Pik-yin Tang) | 2 more credits »
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5 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Biao Yuen ...
Rosamund Kwan ...
...
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
Edit

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

Country:

Language:

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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:

| (cut) | (cut)

Sound Mix:

Color:

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

When Wong Fei-hung opens the fan at the beginning, in one shot he is opening it with both hands. In the next shot he is opening it with one hand. See more »

Quotes

Wong Fei Hung: Why so many swords and daggers on the table?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in HBO First Look: Making 'Romeo Must Die' (2000) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Didn't live up to my expectations.
13 June 2007 | by (Hampshire, England) – See all my reviews

A traditional kung fu movie with elements of the Wuxia sub-genre, Once Upon A Time In China is considered by many to be one of the finest martial arts movies of all time; I don't rate it so highly, preferring my action to be a little more realistic and a tad more 'bone-crunching'.

Set in a troubled 19th century China, where centuries of tradition is being threatened by an influx of foreigners, this historical epic is directed by Tsui Hark and stars the incredible Jet Li, ably supported by Rosamund Kwan, Biao Yuen, Jacky Cheung and Kent Cheng. With a pedigree like that, I was expecting something truly astounding, but what I got was an overlong, over-stylised and definitely over-rated film. Saddled with a dreadfully dull story and some particularly poor comedic moments, it does not entertain as much as I had hoped.

Li plays Wong Fei Hung, martial arts master and all round good guy, who, along with his students, battles the foreign invaders who are plundering China. Kwan plays his love interest, Aunt Yee, who has recently returned from America, and who tries to educate Hung about the wonders of the Western world. As the troubles mount, Aunt Yee becomes the target of unscrupulous traders who try to sell her into prostitution, leaving Hung and his men no option but to pit their fighting skill against guns in a daring rescue attempt.

Although the movie admittedly features some well choreographed fight scenes which will undoubtedly appeal to fans of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (as will the breath-taking cinematography), the action relies too much on clever wire-work and skillful editing for its impact, and the whole affair left this particular viewer rather disappointed.


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