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Chen Zhen, a Chinese engineering student in Kyoto, who braves the insults and abuse of his Japanse fellow students for his local love Mitsuko Yamada, daughter of the director, returns in 1937 to his native Shangai, under Japanse protectorate -in fact military occupation- after reading about the death of his kung-fu master Huo Yuan Jia in a fight against the Japanese champion Ryuichi Akutagawa. While overcoming suspicion and ambition within the kungfu school, Chen exhumes his master to prove Hou's defeat was the result of poisoning. Both nationalities make the case a test of honor, so Chinese and Japanese pride are at stake when it culminates in Chen's final epic duel against the ruthless, undefeated Japanese general Fujita. Written by
Jet Li plays Chen Zhen in this movie, a student of master Huo Yuanjia. Jet Li will then go on to play Master Huo Yuanjia in Fearless (2006) See more »
Although set in 1937, one of the cars seen on the street in Shanghai is a 1947 Chevrolet, and another is a 1948 Buick. See more »
Why don't you show me what you've learned
[Picks up rock and breaks it into pieces]
It's about the energy. About focusing on a single point in time.
So, it's about energy. But tell me something, does a rock have as much energy as an opponent would?
[Slices a leaf floating in air with hand]
You need a more powerful stroke when you're fighting a human being.
Let's see how I can put it into action.
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A remake of Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury, this movie gives us amazing martial arts sequences, with good plot and acting in between.
The fights are spectacular. A lot of martial arts movies incorporate wonderful movements and acrobatics, designed to show off the skill and grace of the fighter. However in a life or death struggle, these sometimes seem out of place. This is a "realistic" martial arts movie. You almost feel yourself cringing with each hit. As the man said: "These lads are out to hurt each other." This is fighting in its purest, taking cue from Bruce Lee's personal style, where the aim is to defeat your opponent in the most efficient manner possible. The opening fight of the movie sets its style right away and continues to its climax.
But what made this movie go above and beyond a martial arts flick is the storyline and plot. This movie deals with themes of racism, tolerance and acceptance not only between the Chinese and Japanese, but within each group as well. Here Jet Li shines in his performance. While events cause him to lose his composure and give in to his feelings, at the core you see that he is a righteous person. When he realizes the correct course of action, either by himself, or when it is pointed out by others, he does what is right. And we see the people around him learn from his behavior and they seek to emulate it.
The movie also tries to present a rather fair view of both the Chinese and Japanese. Neither side is portrayed as good or evil, rather as normal human beings, running the whole spectrum from selfish to noble, from hateful to kind.
As a martial arts movie, this is one of the best ever made, but it stands on its own as a good film, one dealing with a historical subject that has a very strong resonance even today.
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