Directed By: Ronny Yu
Written By: Chris Chow and Chi-long To
I am a sucker for movies with awesome fight scenes and this one has some of the best I have seen in any. It is significant for several reasons and is an excellent film. It is a foreign film that was brought over to the US, so in order to see it you must suffer through the subtitles but it is well worth it I can assure you. Its original title is Huo Yuan Jia and is loosely based off the real life Chinese celebrity by the same name. I can’t attest to much of the authenticity of the story but I know that the perceptions about the Chinese portrayed in the film are accurate. The main authenticity comes from the fact that the real Hua Yuanjia did participate in exhibition fights with foreign fighters in order to rally Chinese respect and nationality. I know that he did not die in one of those bouts though, and I know nothing about his life before so I cannot attest to any of that.
In the film we see Jet Li playing the part of Huo Yuanjia who grows up determined to become the greatest fighter in the world. He becomes a great and mighty champion but becomes drunk on his own success, as well as drunk on indulgence. His personal glory blinds him from what is right and wrong and he becomes an arrogant person who sacrifices everything on an evening of heated emotion. In one night he destroys his reputation, loses his best and oldest friend, and in the aftermath of his decision his family is killed in retribution. The death of his family drives him into deep depression and he begins to wander the country. He is eventually saved by someone who takes him in and cares for him. He spends years learning how to live again and becomes a better person for it. He goes back home with a new ambition, not to fight for glory but to fight for China. It is a great story whether it actually happened that way or not and there is plenty of great fighting to make an already good film even better.
This film is significant not only because it is one of the highest grossing foreign films in the US but because it is Jet Li’s last epic martial arts film. I must be honest that I have not seen enough of his work from his native land, but I have seen many of his US films. I will probably one day take the time to see his other epic martial arts films and be amazed at what I had been missing out on, but for now this one is an incredible performance that I really enjoy. Jet Li is no Bruce Lee, but he is right up there with him as far as being one of the better martial arts actors. I have been a fan of Li since I first saw him in Lethal Weapon 4. He is a great martial artist in his films and has made a name for himself in the US as an actor who can bring in steady revenue.
Amber is not into the martial arts movies so I am doing this review solo as I have with many of Bruce Lee’s films. This is a great movie though, and anybody that enjoys these kinds of films should definitely give this one a shot. It is an interesting and enjoyable film that I think is more than worth your time, and effort as it goes with the subtitles.
NEXT MOVIE: Felon (2008)