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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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The story of two men on different sides of a prison riot -- the inmate leading the rebellion and the young guard trapped in the revolt, who poses as a prisoner in a desperate attempt to survive the ordeal.
"A Chinese version of A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (2005)!", which is my immediate response off the top of my head during the viewing at a local cinema, ordainedly a deja vu even banal narrative does undermine the film itself. Also Wu Xia's ostensible propaganda is so-called "microcosmic Kung Fu", which in my opinion, fabricates a promising prologue, particularly leavens the appeal of the detective segments, Takeshi's character is noteworthy for infusing panache into his persistent waywardness, which sounds more intriguing than the hero- hidden-in-a-remote-village plot, unfortunately the mission is unjustly unfulfilled.
Frankly speaking, the overall quality of the film is above average, as Peter Chen's prestige laurels still waver on a high level. The technical job is amazingly done, the acupuncture specifications, the reconstruction of a minority people's village and some canny inventions such as the alarm clock, the ancient condom and the print apparatus are fun to watch, not to mention the ending, which aroused a burst of laughters in the cinema, I must say it is an unexpected and creative one, otherwise, the finale would be more blushing.
Donnie Yen (from the IP MAN franchise), is unquestionably the leading martial superstar in China at present, whilst Jackie Chan is aging and Jet Li put his priority on his charity career. At an abashed age of 48, being the red-hot Kung Fu star, I pessimistically assume that Donnie's heyday will not be protracted too long. This is Takeshi's the third time starring in Peter Chan's films after THE WARLORDS (2007) and PERHAPS LOVE (2005), this time, his thunder cannot be stolen. I am also surprised to see Tang Wei (the budding starlet in LUST, CAUTION 2007) took such a marginalized role in the film, an almost downplayed innocent wife, although solid, her only shining moment is curbed within one cry-scene, to me, it is an inexcusable misemployment. Other two weathered Kung Fu masters are Kara Hui and Yu Wang, as the main villains, both give admirable but a shade monochrome performances.
All in all, the film is a niche under my expectation, but after so many recent disappointments, to name a few, THE LOST BLADESMAN (2011), FIST OF FURY: THE LEGEND OF CHEN ZHEN (2010) (both under the belt of Donnie Yen), Wu Xia show how desperate we need some new blood to inject into the now overheated Chinese Kung Fu genre, which I do appreciate for its effort.
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