Genre: Martial Arts
Director: Yuen Woo Ping
Cast: Vincent Zhao Wen Zhuo, Zhou Xun, Michelle
Yeoh, Jay Chou, Gordon Liu, Andy On, Guo Xiao Dong, Feng Xiao
Gang, Cung Le
RunTime: 1 hr 55 mins
Released By: GV & Scorpio East Pictures
Rating: PG (Some Violence)
Official Website: http://www.yuenwooping-truelegend.com/index_en.html
Opening Day: 11 February 2010
Legend is the extraordinary journey of a man - a martial arts
hero - whose greatest dream is to create a unique school of
martial arts for the world to follow.
All his life, Su Can has been pursuing the summit in martial
arts. There are two things he holds dearest to his heart –
the dream of creating a unique kind of martial arts that will
pass on to generations; and his beloved wife. Su has a happy
family and his wife is the joy of his life. But owing to a
turn of fate and Su’s own stubbornness, he loses his
wife and his family is destroyed.
After losing his wife, Su cannot live with himself and collapses
totally. He is drunk all the time and becomes a crazy beggar
in everyone’s eyes. Everyday, his young son ties him
with a piece of rope and leads him through the streets, greeted
by people’s curious and disdainful gazes.
But all this time during his spiritual exile, his dream for
the highest peak in martial arts is still alive. In his madness,
Su continues his practice, to perfect his skills and fists.
Then, the Heilongjiang Province where Su resides is under
foreigners’ rule. One day a crisis happens that threatens
the life of his young son – the only person Su still
cares about and his last bit of human hope. At the critical
moment, the flame of life is re-ignited in Su. He lets out
the utmost strength that has lay dormant in him during all
his devastated time, and it becomes the strongest school of
fists that the martial arts world has ever known.
Master action choreographer Yuen Woo Ping returns to the directing
chair after a hiatus of more than a decade. It seems that
Yuen has a penchant for one of the Ten Tigers of Canton, Su
Can or Su Qi Er that with "True Legend", it marks
the maestro’s second attempt in bringing the legendary
folk hero to the big screen.
to be confused with Yuen’s 1993 version with starred
Donnie Yen in the lead role or Stephen Chow’s amusing
"King of Beggars", this Christine To’s (Fearless)
adaptation involves Su Can (Vincent Zhao Wen Zhuo) as a successful
bodyguard working for the Royal family. But the man yearns
to leave the army in pursuit of something he loves rather
than a high post with the government and in the true spirit
of a martial-arts practitioner, Can hopes to impart his skills
to others and also live in peace with his wife, Yuan Ying
(Zhou Xun) and son. But his happiness is short-lived when
Ying’s brother, Yuan Lie (Andy On) returns to avenge
his father’s who was killed by Can’s father 18
years ago, an act that shattered the life of Can forever.
no doubt knew where his bread-and-butter lies and given his
excellent repertoire for the past decades and involvement
in Hollywood productions such as "The Matrix" and
"Kill Bill", you can rest assured Yuen is going
to kick some serious ass in True Legend. Sadly on the other
hand when it comes to story-telling, Yuen seems to be at a
great loss. To be fair, part of the problem lies in the 'go-through-the-motion'
script by Christine To. Man-beaten-down, Man-mourn-the-loss-of-his-skill,
Man-regains-and-fights, Man-wins and so on and forth. The
story flows jarringly from one act to another without much
depth and it’s especially true in the last act.
investing much effort in creating his characters, Yuan Lie
for example remains a caricature, paper-thin villain while
Su Can suffers as a mystic figure that borders between a genius
martial-arts artiste and a depression figure desperately in
need of psychiatric help. Unlike the recent "Ip-Man"
and Tsui Hark’s "Once Upon A Time In China",
where the audience is heavily invested with the protagonists,
"True Legend" lacks this magical touch that makes
the movie works as the various characters seem very far detached
and even mythical in some sense.
Zhao (Once Upon A Time in China IV) who has seen his star
power declined over the years surprisingly puts in an emotional
performance that I should say is on par with Jet Li in "Fearless".
With "True Legend", we get to hear Zhao in his own
voice at last after so many years of horrid dubbing. His chemistry
with Zhou Xun perhaps is one of the factors that salvaged
the filmsy plotting as well. The underrated Andy On (Invisible
Target) finally has the chance to stand out with his villainous
character but like I say it’s pathetically squandered
away by To’s sloppy scribing. After her much-hyped deleted
scene in "Fearless", Michelle Yeoh cameos as Physician
Yu who saved Can after his near-death battle with Lie in addition
the late David Carradine who appears towards the end. The
star that has everyone clamoring for his attention nowadays
is none other than Jay Chou. Appearing as a figment of Can’s
imagination, Chou is in purely for the eye candy or comic
relief depending how you see it as he looks awkwardly out-of-place
in the whole production.
course, "True Legend" never disappoints when it
comes to the whole action arena. From the opening sequence
to Can’s sparring with Lie to the finale with the tournament
fighters, Yuen proved he is still at the top of his game.
The 'Five-Fingers Venom Fist' employed by Lie in particular
brings back memories to the grand old days of Shaw martial-art
classics, it’s a pity Can’s supposedly trademark
Drunken Fist wasn’t elaborate that greatly in this aspect.
Lastly one other minor gripe is the movie lacks a distinct
fight that distinguished one from another if you take into
account Yuen’s outstanding past works including "The
Tai-Chi Master" and "Iron Monkey".
conclusion, "True Legend" action sequences while
never ground-breaking once again established Yuen as the best
wire-fu, martial-arts choreographer of all time. So if you
are in for some exhilarating action mood, you won’t
regret seeing Vincent Zhao and Andy On breaking each other’s
bones. "True Legend" is certainly not much of a
movie about the biopic of Su Can or even the philosophy behind
the drunken fist, ultimately it’s just a handsomely
produced production that only serves to entertain the masses.
(Rich on the action but unfortunately letdown by the
Review by Linus Tee