Late 1800s Foshan, Guangdong: Wong Fei Hung/Jet Li trains men in martial arts to help defend against foreign powers already holding Hong Kong and Macau. He looks after cute 13th Aunt, who's just returned from England. Lots of fight scenes.
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Set in late 19th century Canton this martial arts film depicts the stance taken by the legendary martial arts hero Wong Fei-Hung (1847-1924) against foreign forces' (English, French and American) plundering of China. When Aunt Yee arrives back from America totally westernised, Wong Fei-Hung assumes the role of her protector. This proves to be difficult when his martial arts school and local militia become involved in fierce battles with foreign and local government. As violence escalates even Aunt Yee has to question her new western ideals, but is it possible to fight guns with Kung Fu?Written by
Michele Wilkinson, University of Cambridge Language Centre, <email@example.com>
There's more to martial arts cinema than arthouse self-indulgence or slapstick comedy
Watched this again as an antidote to "The One". Jet Li's done some good films, some TERRIBLE films, and then again he's done a few genuine epics, like the Once upon a time in China series. These films are also among the best work of Tsui Hark.
The modern Wong Fei-Hung series contains elements of humour without being just broad slapstick (if you want kung fu comedy, rent a Jackie Chan film), but are mostly films about a troubled China where traditional values are being overwhelmed by Western style and influence. Iron-Robe Yim's line "you can't fight bullets with kung fu" resonates achingly with the failed boxer rebellion, during which chi-gung practitioners mistakenly believed they were protected from foreign guns.
Wong Fei-Hung's struggle to find an honourable, peaceful path through the collision between cultures should strike a chord with anyone who has moved on from chop-socky and realises that a kung fu movie can feature a great story as well as great cinematography.
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