Fung Hin-Man (Donnie Yen) is a legendary warrior who lives now elderly, along with a friend, their memories and their remorse. When a young man comes to him, Fung tells him the story of ...
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Fung Hin-Man (Donnie Yen) is a legendary warrior who lives now elderly, along with a friend, their memories and their remorse. When a young man comes to him, Fung tells him the story of when he saved the villagers from their oppressors and speaks of the death of the woman he loved. But the young man does not know that it is actually a hit man who wants to kill Fung for the fame that this murder would bring. Written by
(***1/2 out of ****)After first seeing still shots from this in an article in Bey Logans' wonderful Impact magazine, I was really looking forward to the day when I could see this film. I was disheartened to hear that it did very bad box office in Hong Kong. Especially considering it was Donnie Yens' directorial debut. Donnie set out to make a kung fu film. That it certainly is. Not in the traditional sense though with crane and snake stances, but in a Bruce Lee kind of way. If Bruce had been born 2 decades later and approved of a lot of under-cranking, then I can fully imagine him doing this type of film.
So, what is it really like? Well, very good actually. The film is told in flashback. Many people have criticised the film for having flashbacks with flashbacks. I disagree with this. Why is it wrong? After all it only shows what the character is thinking. I did not find it confusing, and it bent the rules of film making quite well in my opinion. Anyway, on with the review! The film tells the story of a legendary character called the Wolf (Yen) and his sidekick. In the beginning we are introduced to an un-named character who is looking for the Wolf in the present day. He is brought to the Wolfs' 'office' where we see him as an old man sleeping. Donnies' sidekick starts to tell the stranger the story of how they met and the legend was born. To give too much of the plot away would be silly considering how sparsely told it is. Nothing about the way the story is told is 'in your face'. Everything is very subtle. Again, something I disagree with that most people have said about the film! Yen has certainly mastered the art of cinematography. The camera angles, colour and editing is very well done. As far as the fighting is concerned, could we expect anything less than brilliant from the Yenster? He seems to be paying homage to kung fu stars past and present. He tips his hat to Tan Tao Liang by putting hopping kicks into modern fight choreography, he moves around and side kicks like Bruce Lee, does his trademark multi-kick jumps and then puts in what seems to be a new type of choreographic brilliance. This involves some quite close in shots of the two opponents arms flailing as they block and parry. So blurred are the movements that only the sound effects give us clues as to the blocking and hitting. It works very well. Donnie shows that he can take choreographing of the martial arts another step towards, and beyond an artform. A few reviews I have seen on this film have said that there isn't much fighting. If ever there was a totally false statement, that is it. Much like Mr Nice Guy, Legend has action by the bucket load. All of it hand to hand fighting. There is one forest fight about a third of the way in to the film that could easily be a prelude to Yen facing up to the main fighting villain of the film at the end. Another fight not long afterwards could very easily be an end fight on its own! A few more fights are just as big. This film has no less than 3 big fights at the end. One against multiple opponents in a village and a forest, then there is the fight against a man known as Monkey which is probably one of the best screen fights I have seen. The last fight is very brutal.
For people who hate wires (me included), this film stays well away from them. Extreme under-cranking is used only on occasion rather than all of the time. This lets in more traditional choreography. Its surreal and uses dialogue sparingly. I think that this is one film that although people are criticising the hell out of it at the moment. In the future it will get its due.
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