Fist of Legend Review
Director: Gordon Chan. Action Director: Yuen Wo-Ping. This is one of my Favorite Jet Li movies, it is a remake of Bruce Lee’s fist of fury (aka the Chinese connection) and is kind of like a sequel to Fearless in the respect that Jet plays the character Chen Zhen who is the student of Huo Yuanjia (the main character from the movie Fearless who is also played by mr Li) and it picks up where Fearless finished. Confused yet?
So you would think a movie telling a story about one of China’s heros and being a remake of a Bruce Lee movie that there would be ‘big shoes to fill’ well there is and fist of legend does exactly that and then some… Not only does this feature have soul it also has some of the most epic and well thought out fight scenes of this genre!
Martial arts films have always come across the board as extremes in terms of performance. There is no compromise, there’re just those films that hit the mark and those that don’t. Fist of Legend, featuring a collection of martial arts top players including Jet Li, and action-choreographed by the legendary Yuen Wo-Ping, is quite a package for the discerning fanatic. Fist of Legend came to the big board in 1994, featuring the best of Gordon Chan’s directing, Jet Li’s acting and production, and more so a trend-setting plot.
This is one of the few films that have even come to age as far as filling the hole Bruce Lee left in the Kung Fu scene. And you got to admire the balls of these guys to remake a Bruce Lee movie because if they stuffed it up that could have sullied their good names. Now, you probably thinking, who the hell would try to remake a Bruce Lee classic? I might just agree – no one. Yes, no one. If you’ve watched most of what Bruce Lee contributed to the cinematic scene, you know that there’s some unique authenticity that came with all his scenes. But then, comparing Fist of Legend and The Chinese Connection isn’t at all off-the-mark!
I won’t compare both films through the entire length of this text, so I’ll go straight to Fist of Legend’s exemplary plot. The main character, Chen Zhen, is a Chinese engineering student who discovers that his master was killed by some Japanese Guy. The story unravels in 1937, when the Japanese occupation of Shanghai was still an on-going thing. Chen is angry, understandably so – bitterly even.
Like any other principled brave martial artist would do, he swears revenge against the perpetrators of this disheartening crime. And boy, you just love the resolve – the young engineering student won’t stop until the rain of justice precipitates! But let’s not forget that the Chen in Fist of Legend is a man who’s well conversant with the Japanese ways.
Although his master dies during a fight with the Japanese champion Ryuichi Akutagawa, he sniffs that there’s more to it – suspicions that eventually turn out to be true. Chen exhumes his master’s body and confirms his fears that the master was defeated as a result of poisoning. This realization leads both nationalities to make a case of honor. More than you can imagine – the stakes are high – represented in every move or word both parties do.
Chinese and Japanese pride is the betting-board, barely laid, when it culminates in Chen’s final epic duel against the undefeated, ruthless Japanese general, Fujita. The plot is captivating; an edge-pusher – gets into your senses and works within you throughout the nooks of the film – one beat at a time. I took the advice of some aficionados before watching this flick, who vehemently insisted that Fist of Legend was the most exciting martial arts fighting they’d seen in any film. I have never been easily convinced, but I bought it. And true to the words, Fist of Legend is the crown jewel of Asian acrobatic action – no doubt why. One of the best kick-ass actions I’ve ever watched on the martial arts scene, I’d highly vouch for this film.
The action is deep in physical singularity, strength, honor and purity. Jet Li is a sanctioned martial arts (multiple WUSHU) world champion in vast areas and his screen presence is undeniable – more so in the Fist of Legend. Although this is one of Jet Li’s first exposures to the Western World, he comes off to be what you might expect of him. The film replaces the fire in the legendary ‘fast gun’ with an extensive feature – which is not at any time short in leaps and kicks. Although they don’t appear all in all that much choreographed, perhaps that’s the appeal in them – a notable piece of work by Yuen Wo-Ping. “Simply put, Fist of Legend is arguably the best martial arts films ever made’.
I find that watching this one by Jet Li is probably a fun way to spend any weekend afternoon – at the pinnacle of the genre. Although I’m often mean on ratings, I am compelled to give it a well deserved, 97 percent rating. Now I would suggest you buy this movie if you haven’t done so but it seems someone has uploaded the whole movie to youtube! How do they get away with that? I had to take the fight scenes that I posted down from youtube!