Saturday, 6 December 2014

Legend of the Fist (5 Stars)

Yesterday evening I hosted a film meeting in my home, to watch two Chinese films back to back. The film group has had home film meetings like this before, but this was the first one that took place in my house. The first of many, I hope. It's good to watch films in the cinema, but it's also good to watch them with friends at home. I already have some ideas for other theme nights, always two films at a time.

The theme for last night was two Chinese films set in modern times, i.e. they both take place in the 20th Century. They're both films that I watched last month. That's no coincidence. I was already planning the film night, and I wanted to watch the films again to see if they were suitable.

"Legend of the Fist" is a masterpiece. It gets better every time I watch it. Chen Zhen, already known as the character played by Bruce Lee in "Fist of Fury", is now a superhero with a secret identity, living in Shanghai in 1925. Actually he has two secret identities. During the daytime he poses as Qi Tianyuan, his friend who died in 1917 in France. At night he goes onto the streets as the Masked Avenger, opposing the Japanese tyrants who are in control of Shanghai.

It would have been good to see the Masked Avenger have spectacular successes, but that wasn't possible. The only director who rewrites history is Quentin Tarantino. Even though Chen Zhen is a fictional character, the events surrounding the story are true. Japan had been occupying parts of China since 1895, and the 1920's were the time when they were slowly increasing their control of China. The Masked Avenger wasn't able to drive the Japanese army out of Shanghai, however much we would like to have seen him do it.

The martial arts sequences are stunning. Donnie Yen is a true action hero, probably more spectacular than Jet Li. In a comic book forum I posted a suggestion for Donnie Yen to be cast as Wong in the upcoming Doctor Strange film. In the comics Wong is a background character, but a major action star like Donnie Yen could upgrade him for the 21st Century.

Film fans Zoe, Annie and Kit... with Buster.

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