Another wuxia epic tale based upon the life of Wong Fei-Hung- who was a real person but whose life has taken on an almost mythic quality in Chinese culture.
(Apologies for the stupid DC rider; it’s already attached to the trailer)
In this film, Wong is the son of a humanitarian doctor (Tony Leung) who administers to the poor and shelters orphans. He becomes close friends with three of the children, including one boy whom he helped his father to save- his best friend, Fiery. Even so he can’t always protect the ones he cares about and one of them, Little Fa, is kidnapped and sold into prostitution. After an act of sabotage destroys the orphanage and kills Wong’s father, Wong and Fiery swear revenge. Fate intervenes as a monk takes in Wong and Fiery, training them and helping them understand what it is they truly mean to accomplish.
Years later, Wong (Eddie Peng Yuyan) is brought in along with several other fighters to hunt down and kill the leader of the rival gang on the docks; whoever does so gets promoted to an Underboss under Master Liu (Sammo Hung)- adopted as his Fourth Son. Having done so, Wong and his friends set in motion their plans to bring down the Black Tiger Gang. Wong plays them against each other, preying upon their insecurities and vices in order to destroy them from within. But being heroes means there’s always a heavy price to pay- especially in Chinese cinema.
The plot unfolds in typical Chinese cinema fashion- flashbacks interlaced with current events, revealing the entire story in pieces. One thing I’ll add is I really liked the cinematograpy. A few things that stood out about it were the use of a POV angle during the early fight scenes- later abandoned, don’t know why- which was an interesting change of pace. Another was the waves of Chi energy emanating from some of the moves and weapons used during fights. Third was the CGI during the climax inside a burning warehouse. Even though it was really fake looking at times, I still kinda liked it and the way it affected the battle. Nice touch. And it’s always fun to see Sammo Hung flying through the air with the greatest of ease! He brings gravitas to the proceedings but you can’t help but think inside he’s smiling the whole time.
It’s not a very original movie, and it’s stuffed full of tropes, clichés and pop culture references- you can’t help but notice the Bruce Wayne/Batman similarities in the story arc as well as the Hunger Games style music cue- but it’s also a lot of fun! It’s great entertainment, if a little hard to follow sometimes. Definitely worth watching.