Su Qi-Er retired from his life as a renowned Qing dynasty general in order to pursue his dream of a family and his own martial arts school. However, Su's peaceful life is shattered when his...
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Two friends, ex Shaolin monks, part ways as they brush with the ongoing rebellion against the government. The ambitious one rises up to be a powerful military commander, while his betrayed friend resorts to learn the calm ways of Tai Chi.
In 1905, revolutionist Sun Yat-Sen visits Hong Kong to discuss plans with Tongmenghui members to overthrow the Qing dynasty. But when they find out that assassins have been sent to kill him, they assemble a group of protectors to prevent any attacks.
Action-packed as usual with Donnie Yen kicking his adversaries in the role of "Beggar Su". Basic plot revolves around a young Beggar Su getting addicted to opium and manipulated by a ... See full summary »
Set three years after Dragon Inn, innkeeper Jade has disappeared and a new inn has risen from the ashes - one that's staffed by marauders masquerading as law-abiding citizens, who hope to unearth the fabled lost city buried in the desert.
Wing Chun, a woman living in a remote village often pillaged by robbers. When Wing Chun finally loses her cool and defeats them, her heroic actions stir up even more trouble in this ... See full summary »
A martial artist/doctor steals from the corrupt authorities as a masked thief to give to the poor while another martial artist/doctor is forced to hunt him down. But a major threat unites them as a powerful and traitorous shaolin monk takes over the authorities.
Su Qi-Er retired from his life as a renowned Qing dynasty general in order to pursue his dream of a family and his own martial arts school. However, Su's peaceful life is shattered when his vengeful adopted brother, Yuan Lie, kidnaps his son and leaves Su for dead. Saved from his demise by his wife Ying and the reclusive doctor Yu, Su resolves to perfect his technique so that he may defeat Yuan Lie and reunite his family. Suffering from visions that he aided in his training by two of the "Eight Immortals" in the form of the mystical "God of Wushu" and the eccentric "Old Sage" master of Drunken Boxing. He embarks on the path that would eventually give rise to the legend of the "King of Beggars." Written by
An Entertaining Combination of Eastern and Western Chinese Martial Arts Aesthetics
Americans have grown accustomed to a certain kind of Chinese martial arts film. Ever since Crouching Tiger, the Chinese MA film has gotten more attention beyond whatever Hollywood effort is churned out to force a Jet Li or Jackie Chan sub-par effort on American audiences. Crouching Tiger was followed by films like House of Flying Daggers and Hero, while those with bigger interests in the subject certainly sought out more films that most Americans might not know.
True Legend seems to pick up on this. Yuen Wo Ping, who is no stranger to Hollywood martial arts films, having dabbled his hand in a number of Hollywood efforts, seems to have taken some of what he's done for American audiences and applied it to this film. He has, after all, been attached to several big U.S. productions, most notably Kill Bill and The Matrix series of films. These and other notable Chinese MA films, which saw American audiences, between True Legend and his last directorial effort, Tai Chi Boxer (1996). So, it may not be surprising that he's incorporated some more Western friendly elements. That may be far reaching, but True Legend is certainly no traditional Martial Arts film.
For Chinese MA fans, this is a mixed bag. It starts out with several powerful action sequences, the most notable being the opening rescue scene. Sadly, this is Ping putting his best foot forward and the film never truly rises above it in terms of impressive action. That doesn't mean the film doesn't contain some other outstanding scenes that, at least, left me with a few 'oh snap' moments. And the combination of fantasy elements that you might see in older films, like the 5 Venom Fist style MA, and more modern concepts, like mixing break dancing with drunken fist boxing, give the film it's own identity.
Sadly, this creates a bit of an identity crises. We're given a historical context for the film, and the story presents itself similarly to Fearless, another MA biopic, but the film isn't grounded in reality and some strange turns are taken, those most notable being main character Su's encounter with The Wushu God. It's a bizarre, CGI heavy intermission between the more grounded first and final acts. But the entire tone of the film seems to be a mix of the two: the more traditional Chinese MA film and the modern, special effects and wire laden Chinese MA film, the kind that Western audiences might be more accustomed to. And reading about the production of the film, you can certainly see that Ping did want to go beyond the traditional film to create something more modern.
Despite this seemingly jumbled style, the film is full of Ping's mastery. Fantastic camera work, editing, and special effects add to the impressive set pieces and choreographed action sequences. Again, there are a ton of 'oh snap' moments, and in a MA film, that is a wonderful thing to have. The opening scene is an incredible display of talent, action, special effects, and choreography that will most likely go down as one of the great modern MA action scenes. There are plenty of other fantastic action sequences, and thankfully Ping knows how to shoot a proper action scene as opposed to so many other directors who think all the action has to be confusing and up close, and all the editors who think that it requires cuts by the second. This film reaffirms that, even after all these years, Ping can still produce something that is entertaining and exciting, that he is still a master of the MA sequence.
Whether you enjoy this film or not will depend entirely on how much you can enjoy the fairly odd mix of styles along with the inclusion of a fifth act to end the film. It does take a bit of a right turn with the final act, but it's none the less very entertaining, and includes a cameo (most likely our last glimpse) of David Carradine, who you might know worked with Ping on Kill Bill. However, I would recommend this film to any MA fan. It's unique blend of quirky style, fantastic action, and masterful filming technique all make up one entertaining Chinese MA.
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