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Chinese steampunk martial arts blockbuster about the early years of Tai chi master Yang Luchan, the man who founded in the 19th century what has now become the most popular Tai Chi style in... See full summary »
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Directed by Wu Ma, who had previously directed Yuen Biao in the ghost story classic Portrait of a Nymph in 1988, this film focuses on the students of the Wong Fei Hong legend.
Yuen Biao, who starred in Once Upon a Time in China, then found that most of scenes had been cut out, made this seminal classic in which he teamed up again with Wu Ma to star in his own take of the Wong Fei Hong legend. Although Wu Ma rather wisely focuses on the students of Wong Fei Hong rather than the Wong Fei Hong himself as the Once Upon a Time in China series had done.
Also starring is Wu Ma himself and the fantastic Yuen Wah (this would be the last film where he and Yuen Biao would fight. Although they were in Hero (1997) they didn't fight in that movie) who is great as the opium smuggling chief.
Yuen Biao plays Lau Zhai, a student of Wong Fei Hong (but not inducted formally yet), who has a unfairly bad reputation thorough the community who gets framed for smuggling opium.
Yuen Biao shows some incredible footwork and so does Yuen Wah. Their end fight at the end is a great highlight of the movie.
Although the first part of the movie is pretty slow, as Wu Ma tries to establish the characters and the storyline, it picks up in the second half where the movie is fantastic.
Backed by a great supporting cast, in which virtually all of them would team up again to star with Yuen Biao, a year later to star in the Wu Ma directed Circus Kid. Yuen Biao gives a refreshingly diverse performance which ranges from playfulness, sorrow, anger, love and so much that I could go on for ever.
The choreography of this film is fantastic, letting both Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah shine. Wu Ma, directs with some lovely sweeping camera angles. The production values are very high too. Wu Ma must be given credit for focusing on a number of characters rather than one.
This movie is a fantastic movie. However this movie doesn't have that certain sparkle most Yuen Biao movies have. Despite that this movie should be seen by any fan of the Hong Kong martial arts movie genre.
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