The youngest son of an alcoholic former boxer returns home, where he's trained by his father for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament - a path that puts the fighter on a collision corner with his older brother.
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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 »
When Akutagawa and the Japanese Ambassador are talking after playing a game of Go!, the pieces disappear and re-appear a number of times. 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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Fist of Legend, IMHO, is the best Jet Li movie to date, and among the best martial arts movies ever made. A darker, more serious film than the bulk of Li's work, it shines in both story and action. Reminiscent of OOIC in tempo and, to a lesser degree, tone, Fist of Legend surpasses its better known predecessor in intensity and elegance.
Using minimal wires, the fight scenes are absolutely breathtaking. What they lack in wire-fu acrobatics and superhuman theatrics, they more than make up for in precision, creativity, believability and plotline relevance. Three of my all time favorite kung fu fight scenes are in this single movie. While still a well told story, there is more than enough kung fu for even the most die hard. We simply don't get to see Jet Li fight like this anymore.
Jet Li, as always, is phenomenal, and his opponents are both skilled and artfully characterized. His serious portrayal of Chen Zhen far surpasses his Jackie Chan-esque comedic roles, yet retains a vulnerability not found in Wong Fei Hung. While originated by Bruce Lee, Chen Zhen was a role made for Jet Li.
The plot (as I'm sure you know) is derived from the classic Fists of Fury, but the depth and characterization of this rendition far surpasses the original. The political and racial turmoil surrounding the characters is more capably written and tastefully portrayed, never subtracting from the action.
All in all, a top notch effort, and the best blend of storytelling and kung fu I've encountered.
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