Rise of the Legend
In a bid to reboot the story of popular Chinese folk hero Wong Fei Hung Edko films 2014 film Rise of the Legend concentrates on Wong's early life. Originally made famous in the fifties and sixties by Kwan Tak Hing who portrayed the hero in countless films and a TV series.
For the modern age and current cinema fan Wong Fei Hung again became prominent in the eighties with Jackie Chan's Drunken Master where Jackie played a youthful Hung more interested in having fun . Jackie once again played the role in his 1994 film Drunken Master 2 which starred and was directed by Hung gar master Lau Kar Leung.
Moving into the nineties Wong Fei Hung was portrayed in his middling years by wushu expert Jet Li who starred as the folk hero in three films and then returning for a six film in the series after relinquishing the reigns to the fourth and fifth films to fellow wushu expert Chiu Man Chuek.
So bang up to date we have Rise of the Legend and it has a lot to live up to in terms of the films and the stars that proceeded it.
One thing about Rise is it's a much darker film then previous films about Wong fei Hung. It also is more concentrated on how Fei Hung became the folk hero portrayed in Jet Li's or Kwan Tak Hing's films.
Of course the contrast between the early life portrayed in Jackie Chan's features and Rise is huge.
After being orphaned at a young age ( something at odds with many other stories) Fei Hung and his best friend are adopted by a monk and trained in the arts in a cave in the mountains.
This basically a revenge film in that Fei Hung and his best pal arrive in Gaungzhao to upsurp the Opium gangs who are responsible for killing many with their dark cloud (Opium) for financial gain.
His friend and child hood love decide to help the local orphans and set up considerable force capable of causing a rucas when needed.
It's up to Fei Hung to gain trust and get into Boss Liu's (Sammo Hung) Black Tiger Gang.
By gaining access to the gang Fei Hung becomes a close confidant of Liu's , he helps Liu take out the competition by literally waging war on the rival gangs.
Of course he has a other agenda ,this is all a way of getting revenge by destroying the gangs and bringing peace to the region.
Fei Hung's main concern and motivation is the entrapment of Chinese slaves by the gangs who are sold to the American's to work on the railways ( something in common with the Jet Li films) , Fei Hung's goal is to find out where the slaves are and when they will be shipped out . But first he must gain the full trust of Liu.
In all honesty the authenticity of the films story is very far removed from the stories of Fei Hung and it's used more just as cash in to gain interest in the film.
Yes there are characters similar to the Jet Li films ,but there little more then side characters just to add that sense of familiarity to the story.
But it's not to say that Rise is a bad film, but it really could have been any characters really in the end, as it really is just a revenge film typical for the genre.
Eddie Peng ( Unbeatable) is really good in the role as our hero ,but maybe lacks that on screen presence the likes of Jackie,Jet or Kwan Tak Hing has.
The action is handled very well by Corey Yuen kwai who always delivers in the action stakes but maybe not always offering the rawness that Sammo would deliver or the fluidity and dynamic look the likes of Yuen Woo Ping would bring to such a feature.
I always see a film action choreographed by Coery Yuen Kwai as entertaining in the action stakes but I rarely find his action choreography mind blowing , it's like I know what I am going to see before I see it.
Also the film takes a hint from the Ip Man feature The Grandmaster , Director Roy Chow has quite a few scenes that concentrate on less of the action when it's being performed to zoom in on rain dropping on peoples heads and such like.
It may look good in pictures and promo shots for the film ,but mid fight I'm rarely concerned where the rain might fall.
I also found the story pacing and explanation seems disjointed and found my self having to catch up to know which characters where who and their relationship to Fei Hung and other characters . This could have been the editing but I don't really know.
Surprises , are there any ?
Yes I was pleasantly surprised to see Byron Mann in a role as Black Crow ,one of Liu's disciples . He's a actor I have always thought deserved more character roles and I thought he was really good in this .
Tony Leung Ka Fei turns up in the early minutes of the film in a cameo role as Fei Hung's father. But his part is short lived .
Sammo Hung who many consider to be one of the all time greats of martial arts cinema is cool as Boss Liu who becomes like a adoptive father to Fei Hung only to be confronted.
But I did find it ludicrous to add heavy wire work and spins and flips to Boss Liu's fights as it's clearly not Sammo doing the action and some guy in a padded suit.
It's here where Corey Yuen Kwai's action lets him down in places and he does it a lot in films, you have a perfectly good fight going on and Sammo is busting some moves and shapes with some great hand combat and reserved kicks which has always been a trademark of Sammo Hung's , then all of a sudden you see the same character flip in the air spin and land or catch a pipe on the ceiling. It breaks the reality of the scene and sends it to some fantasy zone. .
In the end Rise of the Legend is a fun filled film, it's gritty and continues the trend of classic style old school films in modern day Chinese cinema.
But as a interpretation of the stories of Wong Fei Hung it lacks mainly because of the people that have come before and played the role. I like Eddie Peng but as Wong Fei Hung he just does not cut it for me. And much preferred his role in Unbeatable .
As a martial arts revenge flick with some good action Rise delivers , it wont leave much of a lasting impression for days on end but you will enjoy your time with it while it lasts.
|Directed by||Roy Chow|
|Produced by|| |
|Written by||Christine To|
|Music by||Shigeru Umebayashi|
|Edited by||Cheung Ka-fai |
Universal Pictures International
VFX Nova Digital Productions
|Distributed by|| |
Edko Films (Hong Kong
Universal Pictures International (Worldwide)
21 November 2014 (China)
27 November 2014 (Hong Kong)
|Country||Hong Kong |
Sammo Hung as Master Lui, leader of the Black Tiger gang
Eddie Peng as Huang Feihong
Wang Luodan as Chun, Huang Feihong's childhood friend and lover
Jing Boran as Fiery
Zhang Jin as Wu Long
Wong Cho-lam as Big Tooth
Qin Junjie as Foon
Jack Feng as North Evil
Byron Mann as Black Crow
Source : Wikipedia