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Two of the finest martial artists still working in action cinema (Jackie
my opinion lost skill in favor of gimmick in the late 1980's) the always
incredible Jet Li and the fantastic Donnie Yen (New Big Boss, Iron Monkey,
New Dragon Inn) combine with the director who almost single handedly
re-invented the genre Tsui Hark and arguably the greatest action
choreographer of all time Yuen Woo Ping (crouching tiger, iron monkey, the
matrix)to create a powerhouse of a martial arts movie. What it lacks
overall in action it more than makes up for in the fight sequences that do
take place. Jet and Donnie is a mouth watering prospect and they do not
dissapoint. I dont care if wires were used, it takes someone extremely
special to perform like these two guys do and you can do little but watch
The plot is pretty thin so I wont waste time going into it. I will merely say, see this movie, just to experience and appreciate what Jet Li can really do, before hollywood softens him up even more. The fight with the leader of the White Lotus Cult is almost forgotten between the two showdowns with donnie, but wow, just incredible
Another excellent entry into the series dealing with China coming to terms
with foreign influence and an uncertain future, infused with romance, humour
and some outstanding choreography. The well-drawn cast includes Dr Sun
Yat-Sen which brings some historical credibility, but adds irony as well,
since Dr Sun's idealism may have been misplaced. Oh yeah, its got some great
fighting in it too...
I find previous accusations implying racism in this film to be misguided and deeply ignorant. The Wong Fei-Hung series highlights the historical turmoil felt in China from external trade interest and internal political pressure. Foreign characters are shown as both villainous and sympathetic (just like the Chinese characters). OUATIC II portrays the xenophobia of the White Lotus Cult as a Very Bad Thing, and the confusion at western objects and inventions varies from the hilarious train sequence to the superstitious fear of the camera. It's self-mockery, but it's bittersweet. If anything, Tsui Hark is implying a loss of innocence.
If the foreign powers are portrayed in a negative light, it's because our presence in China was motivated by greed and imperialism. Hardly the most noble of motives. But then nobody's perfect, and China's human rights record is less than great before and after the revolution.
I'm staggered that anyone could be so utterly stupid as to ascribe Nazi overtones to a film which goes so far to portray nobility, humanism and honour. Anyway, great film.
I have to disagree with a lot of the comments. This is a great martial arts
movie !! The fight scenes are few and far between, and the plot a bit
convoluted -- but the quality of fighting is absolutely superb. Tsui Hark
has managed to restrain himself and just get some really kick-ass moves out
of Jet Li and Donnie Yen (the later movies in this series are just way too
fantastical for a classic kungfu movie). I have seen almost all of Jet Li's
movies (and several of Donnie Yen's) and I will have to say that the two
fight sequences between Li and Yen are the best ever filmed. I found myself
skipping over the rest of the movie just to see these two scenes over and
over again. Their techniques were simply marvelous...(It was refreshing to
see David Chiang, an old favorite of mine back in the 70s, though). How
ever filmed it boggles the mind. "Fist of Legend" and "Tai Chi Master" may
have more colorful fighting, and the latter may be a better overall movie,
but the true afficionado (and I have been watching these kungfu flicks for
about 30 years) will really appreciate the quality of fighting here. Tsui
Hark has distilled the essence of HK kungfu movies into these two scenes.
This is arguably the best of the 'Once Upon a Time in China'
series (which now runs to 6). It stars Jet Li as martial
arts master & doctor Wong Fei-Hong, a historical figure/legend
popular in Hong Kong period pieces, much like Robin Hood
King Arthur in Western culture. It features some of the
exquisitely choreographed and executed fight scenes in
movie I've ever seen, utilizing two truly excellent martial
artists/actors, Jet Li and Donnie Yen. And, almost as
importantly, the level of absurdness and ridiculousness,
high in many HK movies, in the fights, humor, and story
kept to a reasonable level so western viewers won't be
totally put off. In general, production quality is high,
story is good/tolerable, and the fights are truly incredible
showcases of the actors' abilities. It would be an excellent
choice for the western movie-watcher trying to find more Jet
films after seeing Lethal Weapon 4. It is also an excellent
example of how in 20 years the 70's kung-fu chop-socky
evolved after it and Bruce Lee disappeared from the west.
This is as good as a sequel can get, fantastic stuff and almost as good as the 1st, if that's possible!. All the characters were fantastic again, and the fight choreography was simply incredible, plus i really dug the awesome character development again. The Story is is really awesome, and the fight scenes really blew me out of my seat, and the setting was really awesome, plus the finale is simply amazing!. It started off pretty slowly,but it was never boring, and The opening was very funny, plus Jet Li was simply amazing in this!. i really loved the added humor in this, as it had me chuckling, and while the story is not quite as powerful, it still packs quite a wallop and there are lots of great emotional moments, plus Jet and Rosamund Kwan had great chemistry once again!. This is as good as a sequel can get, fantastic stuff and almost as good as the 1st, and i say it's a must see at all costs!. The Direction is fantastic!. Hark Tsui does a fantastic job here, with some incredible camera work, amazing shots during the fight scenes, great angles, and lots of other amazing shots, plus he kept the film at an incredibly fast pace!. There is a bit of blood and violence. We get gory arrow hits,bloody corpses,knife in the leg, impaling in the neck, and lots of other gory impaling's. The Acting is excellent!. jet Li is AMAZING as always, and is amazing here, he is extremely likable, excellent in the acting department, had very good chemistry with Rosamund Kwan, kicked that ass, and added some great humor as well! (Jet Rules!). Rosamund Kwan is great here as the Aunt once again, although she has a lot less to do, she still was great. Xin Xin Xiongis great here and was pretty menacing. Siu Chung Mok is great as Foon and was very funny.Donnie Yen is AMAZING as General Lan, he was extremely menacing, is a brilliant martial artist, and had one of the best fight scenes ever with Jet! (Donnie Rules!). Ka-Kui Ho is good as Mak and added class Rest of the cast, are great. Overall a must see at all costs!. ***** out of 5
What this movie lacks in volume it makes up for in weight. The fights scenes aren't as plenty as Tai Chi Master or Iron Monkey, but they rank with and above them. This movie tell the story of Wong Fei Hung dealing with the racist White Lotus cult who wish to drive the foreigners from China. Things are complicating by the arrival of Commander Lan (Donnie Yen) who is trying to crush a rebellion led by Dr. Sun Yat Sen. The movie drags in the middle but picks up with 3 fights that are among Jet Li's best. Donnie proves a worthy opponent in his two duels with Jet. A must see.
When we last saw Wong Fei Hung (Jet Li), he emerged as a hero to his
people in fighting against the invading foreign forces that were
wreaking havoc in his hometown. By part 1's conclusion, he has also
come to realize that his country is going through inevitable changes
and that acceptance to western cultures is the best possible answer to
Like Wong's change in view, part II shifts from its predecessor's themes of nationalism and self-strengthening to an exploration of cultural and ideological tolerance. With all that said, Once upon a time in China II is one of those rare sequels that manages to cast a shadow over its original and brings the franchise to a new height.
Li once again delivers a towering performance reprising his role as Wong. Although there's very little development to the character since the last time we met him, we are immediately won over the second he raises his first kick to the sound of the beautifully familiar score. Accompanied by Aunt 13 (Rosamund Kwan) and his mischievous student Leung Foon (Max Mok replacing Yuen Biu of the original), the trio travels to Canton only to find a town ravaged by chaos and violence. Instead of foreigners being the chief baddie this time, the White Lotus Sect and its zealous leader priest Kung (played wonderfully by Xiong Xin Xin) takes over as the story's primary antagonists. First introduced by a breathtaking prologue, they are portrayed as a fanatical cult bent on eradicating all foreigners and those that follow foreign ways, even going as far as murdering little children.
One of the film's most refreshing features, however, was the inclusion of a complex villain in the form of Donnie Yen's Charismatic Manchu military commander/imperial guard General Lan. Despite being pitted against our heroes, he is a man that is hard for the audience to despise when he's telling his men not to hurt civilians or having a brief heart to heart with Wong on their country's chaotic state.
Once upon a Time in China II is without a doubt the pinnacle of the series and quite possibly the career peak of everyone involved especially for one Tsui Hark. After this, it is the slow decline for the former new wave auteur who would attempt to dip his hands into mainstream Hollywood (only to stink up his CV with Double Team and Knock Off) before taking a stab at the recent trend of big budget wuxia epic only to come up with the woeful Seven Swords. If any of you were unfortunate enough to have seen those movies I've just mentioned, I can guarantee that Once upon a Time in China 2 is the perfect antidote for you.
Taking up where the first part left off, this is effectively more of the
same which is no bad thing. Li and Rosamund Kwan return, but Yuen Biao
elects not to reprise his role of Foon. His replacement Max Mok does a great
job in the role.
Most of the wire work action is left for the climax, giving Li a chance to demonstrate just how good he is at stylish (and FAST) kung fu earlier in the movie, when he takes on a mob intent on lynching his beloved 13th aunt armed only with a fan, and faces off against Donnie Yen in a great pole fight.
As for the plot, this time us dopey westerners are the ones in danger, rather than being the outright villains. After a raid on an embassy, Wong Fei Hung decides enough is enough and takes on the White Lotus cult, who are intent on rubbing out all western influences from China. Cue high-flying kicks, punches and leaps, and a crazy fight atop a construction of tables.
The climax, a memorable fight with Donnie Yen, is an absolute classic, with both giving their all. The speed and technique shown during the double-pole fight is staggering, and Yen's moves with his cloth staff are gob-smacking. It's a real treat to see kung-fu cinema of this quality.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Very,very good movie, on top of that it's a great martial arts flick.
Any Jet-Li fan needs to have this in their library.
A different reversal of roles, he plays a doctor who looks like a monk helping people and fighting occupation over territories in China. Typically nowadays Jet to most of his American audiences is known for playing dark, urban crime fighting characters and personalities like in "Unleashed" and "The Enforcer". That takes nothing away from this masterpiece. It's great in every way possible, the soundtrack, acting, story.
His character Huang Feihong (sounds more like Wei-Fong) is well layed out, he has some flaws, but he is great when the time comes. Rosamund Kwan plays Huang's cousin who is very fond of him, I got the feeling she was in love with him as she says "I'll never leave you' The martial arts stunts are really top notch, I can even list all the stunts but the fights with the White Lotus bunch is outstanding.
Pretty good acting too all around.
Looking coldly and cynically, with one hand resentfully clutching my
credit card, and my brain stuck in a Hollywooden formula rut, I might
agree with the posters who are down on this movie.
However, as someone who enjoys being entertained, likes a good wire fight, a slapstick rumble or two, some gentle amorous humour, and a hint of historical perspective, I can't find much wrong with this movie.
I learnt to understand the concept of fiction at an early age, I don't expect the kind of anal attention to detail or period authenticity that some on these boards appear to demand. Nor do I see the need to claim some kind of Chinese racist agenda is being enacted to bamboozle feeble western minds. Phooooey!. You wanna see racism and ethnic cleansing? Watch a few 50s westerns. Then pull that beam out of your eye.
Of the three OUATIC movies that actually matter, 2 is by far the most fun. The fights are beautifully filmed, the acting's less hammy than 1 or 3 (even those jolly good chappish Brits), and Donnie Yen is on top form. The wobbly wire fight with the White Lotus guy, which tops off another fine umbrella set piece, is beautifully played for laughs. I enjoy a fight scene more if the participants actually have some technical ability above and beyond fancy CGI tricks and loud grunting noises. Donnie Yen and Jet Li certainly fall into that category. The pole fight is one of the best on film. If only it were five minutes longer.
When Hollywood manages to make a kung fu movie one tenth as interesting or amusing as this, I'll join the moaners and give this the grumpy old man stinkeye. But until that day, I'll just keep enjoying another fine slice of Tsui Hark's escapist entertainment.
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