Kung fu experts exchange death blows in this expertly choreographed adventure directed by Yuen Wo Ping, who devised CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON's spectacular fight sequences. Originally released in 1993, this film's 2001 theatrical re-release seems to have been prompted by CROUCHING TIGER's unexpected crossover success. One of many films to portray legendary martial artist Wong Fei-hung, this one is unusual in that it deals with his childhood and shifts the spotlight to his father, Wong Kei Ying, a master in his own right. Corrupt provincial governor Cheng (James Wong) is plagued by robberies executed by a masked martial artist who calls himself the Iron Monkey and is revered as a hero by the poor. After being robbed in his own bedroom and humiliated in the eyes of his concubines, Cheng strong-arms visiting physician and martial arts master Wong Kei Ying (Donnie Yen) into agreeing to capture the gadfly, holding onto Wong's adolescent son, Fei-hung (Tsang Sze-man), to ensure his compliance. But to Master Wong's dismay, Iron Monkey turns out to be local herbalist Dr. Yang (Yu Rong Guang), who has befriended Wong and helped cure young Fei-hung of a life-threatening fever. Fortunately, the pair quickly realize they're on the same side and join forces to rout the greedy and corrupt officials who've brought misery to the lives of the region's poor. With the help of Miss Orchid (Jean Wang), Dr. Yang's assistant and a formidable martial artist in her own right, the doctors take on the newly arrived Hin Hung (Yang Yeo-kwan), a renegade Shaolin monk who's sold his allegiance to the highest bidder, and his team of assassins. Their protracted battle culminates in a ferocious showdown atop flaming poles in a burning courtyard. Yes, the film is formulaically plotted, filled with goofy humor and reliant on the kind of accelerated motion and exaggerated sound effects associated with '70s chop-socky schlock. But martial arts spectacles don't come more spectacular than this, and Yuen bestows a quality of grace on the entire production: Witness the delightful throwaway scene in which Dr. Yang and Orchid, alone in their shop, use their martial arts moves to retrieve a pile of papers blown about by the wind. Younger action fans will appreciate scenes of Wong Fei-hung defending other boys from larger bullies and wielding an umbrella with the same dexterity his character displayed as an adult in the ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA series.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1993
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Kung fu experts exchange death blows in this expertly choreographed adventure directed by Yuen Wo Ping, who devised CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON's spectacular fight sequences. Originally released in 1993, this film's 2001 theatrical re-release seems to h… (more)