Friday, 30 September 2011

12 HONG KONG KUNG FU MOVIES THAT KICK IT...HARD!!! (Part 4)


In our last (sob, sob!) look at 12 worthy Hong Kong Kung Fu films that NEED to grace your DVD shelves, we look at more modern takes on the traditional syle.


TRUE LEGEND


This was Yuen Woo Ping's return to feature film directing after a nearly 14 year absence (the years in between were filled with Choreography gigs on things like The Matrixand it's sequels, and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon)...and what a return it was!

True Legend tells the story of Su Can (played by Wu Shu star, Vincent Zhao / Chiu Man Cheuk), a military general who, after saving a prince, is offered the chance to be a governor in return. Instead of accepting this, he decides to retire from service to focus on raising a family, and the pursuit of perfection in the martial arts, and asks if his adopted brother, Yuan Lie (played with menace by Andy On), can receive the promotion instead.

Unfortunately, Yuan Lie is ferociously jealous of his brother and after becoming a powerful leader returns to Su Can's home and kills his father (played by 'Beardy' himself, Leung Kar Yan), kidnaps his son and leaves Su Can for dead.

And so, Su is lead down a path of recovery, martial arts training and revenge as he meets his destiny and becomes one of the famed '10 Tigers of Canton'...the legendary Beggar So.

This film is AWESOME in nearly every aspect. Well shot, well acted and totally Fu-rific! Zhao shows that he really can work well on the big screen, after mainly doing TV work since Fist Power, some 10 years ago. The rest of the cast are fantastic too - which includes great cameos from people like Michelle Yeoh, Jay Chou (recently seen in the Seth Rogan take on The Green Hornet), Gordon Liu and the late David Carradine.

And the fight scenes are too bad either! Yes, there's the odd use of Wire-fu and they've certainly gone OTT on the ol' Breakdancing in a few places (Woo Ping apparently made Zhao do a few months training in the Urban Arts!), but that doesn't stop each superbly choreographed duel being both pacy and bone-crunching.

All in all, this is one of the better 21st century Fu films in the tradional-style. Get it now!

IMDB

ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA



Tsui Hark returned to solo-directing for the first time since Peking Opera Blues in 1986 (he co-lensed movies such as The Swordsman, Big Heat and I Love Maria in the interim) with this much copied and sequel-spawning traditional Kung Fu movie hit.

This sets up Wu Shu sensation Jet Li (Shaolin Temple, Kids From Shaolin, Martial Arts of Shaolin) as the new embodiment of Wong Fei Hung, a real-life folk hero and another of the 10 Tigers of Canton - a group of ten of the best martial arts fighters in southern China. Before this movie, everybody knew the late Kwan Tak Hing as the film version of Wong, having starred in countless movies featuring the character between 1949 and 1981, but Jet takes over the role with effortless ease.

The main focus of the film (and I'm not gonna go through the intricacies of the plot - coz I hate typing!) is the effect of the West (primarily Britain and America) on South-east Asia - guns, the slave trade, you name it - and sees Wong (a herbalist and Kung Fu Master of the Hung Gar style) pitted against rival martial arts schools, spiritual sects and an American crime syndicate.

This film has it all - not only does it have instances of fantastic martial arts prowess provided by Jet (ably assisted by his stunt-double, Hung Yan Yan / Xin Xin Xiong, who also has a decent role in the film), Yuen Biao and old-school villain, Yen Shi Kwan, but it also has a great story, characterisation and is beautifully filmed.

Unlike most martial arts films up until this time, it really makes sure that all the elements are working 100% and although running at over 2 hours in length, it never lets the eyes wander or segues into too much scatological comedy or ham-fistedness.

Truly a classic in every sense of the word.

IMDB

HERO


Another Jet Li vehicle hits our list of 12. This one, a simple but beautifully whimsical film directed by Chinese art-house King, Zhang Yimou, is about as good as it's gonna get in this age of CGI, uber-slow mo and high budgets.

Set in a time when China's different region's were separately governed and not yet unified, a nameless swordsman (Jet) is allowed to go before one of these region's Kings (Chen Daoming) as he claims to have killed 3 assassins (Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Donnie Yen) that were aiming to murder the powerful leader.

Because of the assassination attempt, the King will not allow anyone within a certain distance of him, but as 'Nameless' tells his story he is allowed closer...and closer, and we - the viewer - get closer to the truth.

The whole style of this film, both in terms of set design and story design (as well as knee tremblingly good fight sequences co-ordinated by the legend that is Ching Siu Tung) is what really sets this apart from your usual Wu Xia

Truly a masterwork in every sense, I urge you to get hold of this masterpiece.


That's ya lot folks. That's Reantimator's '12 Hong Kong Kung Fu Movies that Kick it...Hard!' done, dusted and in the rear-view mirror. But there's gonna be more, Oh, yes, there's gonna be more!

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

4 comments:

  1. Nice looking site, mate.

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  2. Haven't seen True Legend but your other choices are awesome Reantimator. Hero doesn't seem to get the respect it deserves from Hong Kong film fans for some reason but I adore it. Great stuff.

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  3. True Legend's definately worth a look and, like you said, Hero rocks around the clock! Many thanks! :)

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