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Lao san is a highly motivated navy man. In saving a friend from drowning he suffers hypoxia. The lack of oxygen causes permanent brain damage and he is no longer able to function to a normal level of intelligence. After being discharged from the navy he remains caught obsessively in the training he received. With only a young deaf boy for a friend he moves around the city fighting crime and trying to teach petty thieves the simple lessons of right and wrong using his martial arts background. Written by
I was able to view an advanced screening of Ying Han, directed by rookie Ding Sheng (according to a Chinese website, used to make commercials), written and produced by Hong Kong's Wong Jing. First of all I need to inform everyone who has seen the trailer, that most of the 'good' parts, mostly the exciting action scenes, are shown in the trailer. Ying Han is more about the story than actual action. At first when I saw the trailer I thought this was a movie where the Chinese Police force flexes their muscles, we see armored vehicles charging up some stairs and a SWAT team, but they don't really utilize their resources until the last scene. However, there are plenty of fighting scenes, which are quite well done. What impresses me about the action scenes of Ying Han is that the movie's main character, Liu San (meaning Third Brother or Old Third, because he was the third eldest sibling), he is not a kung fu master. He was trained in the PLA's Navy, which I believe is similar to US Marines, so he has a great physique and knows how to fight. So he doesn't dispatch the bad guys with unbelievable flying kicks or any wire fu at all, but effective street fighting techniques. Very realistic and never over the top.
The story is that Liu San was having a great career in the Navy, until one day one of his fellow soldiers had an accident during a training exercise and was drowning, and he jumped in to save him. The other guy recovered, but he suffered slight brain damage that forced him to retire early. He then goes around fighting bad guys, and there are lots of them in the Mainland. This is one of the first movies where they show a fairly wide variety of the cheats, the pickpockets, the counterfeit ticket peddlers, etc, in a Chinese movie. This is a rampant problem in the current Chinese society, and also one of the biggest differences between Chinese and Western society. Unfortunately in Chinese society, people tend to keep to themselves and stay away from trouble, and would rather let the police handle it. But the police force can only extend so far, and they cannot be in so many places all the time. In the West, if someone commits a petty crime like pickpocketing, even if they might be armed with a knife or backed up by several people, if everyone in a crowded area step in to give a hand and help subdue them, crime would not run rampant and criminals would think twice. In Ying Han, Liu San's life objective is to be a good person, and fight bad guys. Sometimes, people tell him not to fight anymore, as he could get in trouble or get hurt, but he insists on doing the right thing. He does have a run in with the law as Chinese police seem to frown on renegade violence, but you will have to watch the movie to find out what happens. Liu San also has a love interest and it makes for a decent subplot.
Besides Liu Ye, Anthony Wong is probably the only big name that Western audiences would recognize, and he plays a very interesting charcacter in Ying Han. One of Mainland's biggest actors, Sun Honglei, also makes a very brief cameo. All in all, Ying Han is a very nice piece of work and a great debut by Ding Sheng, and the last scene is choreographed beautifully. Let's just hope that it is the first of many modernized Chinese movies with groundbreaking styles that audiences all over the world can enjoy, and not just for the Mainland market.
I would give it a 7.5/10 but Liu Ye was really good and the movie moved along nicely, with hardly any boring moments, so it gets rounded up for IMDb.
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