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LEGEND OF THE FIST
DVD region 2. Metrodome.

Legend of the FistIn 1995, the classic Bruce Lee movie Fist of Fury was adapted into a Hong Kong TV series starring Donnie Yen, and this long-awaited film is a sequel to that series (and, by default, the original movie - but not Jet Li's Fist of Legend, based on the same character).

Here, Yen plays Chen Zhen, who survived his seeming death at the end of Fist of Fury and is first seen in the French battlefields of World War One, where Chinese labourers are drafted into fighting against the Germans (setting the scene for some pointed digs at Western betrayal that pop up throughout the film). After the war, he returns to Shanghai in the 1920's, where the city and the country are being torn apart by the coming war with Japan. Taking the identity of a fallen colleague, he works by day for nightclub boss Liu Yutian (Anthony Wong), while by night he slips into a costume seemingly on loan from The Green Hornet's Kato and fights for the resistance against the Japanese and their leader, the indescribably fiendish Colonel Takeshi (Kohata Ryu). He also finds time to romance club hostess Kiki (Shu Qi) - but she is not who she seems to be...

There's more political intrigue than all-out action in the first hour of the film, and at times it seems Chen is not the most effective of heroes, as the Japanese release a 'death list' to the press and then proceed to kill half the people on it. But if you can hold on, the finale is spectacular stuff, riffing directly off the original Fist of Fury - including crowd-pleasing lines about China not being the sick man of Asia - and with fast-paced and brutal fight scenes between yen and what seems to be half the population of Japan.

This is shamelessly nationalistic stuff - the Japanese are cruel and brutal, while the Westerners in the film are cowardly and corrupt. But it's not to be taken too seriously, and there is plenty here for martial arts fans to get their teeth into, while Andrew Lau's direction is steady and the production values impressive. Yen doesn't quite have the charisma of Bruce Lee, but is impressive in the fight scenes, and on the whole, this is entertaining stuff.

DAVID FLINT

BUY IT NOW (UK) DVDBLU-RAY

 

 

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