Starring : Donnie Yen , Takeshi Kanershiro, Tang Wei,
Jimmy Wang Yu, and Kara Hui
Directed By : Peter Ho Sun Chan
Wuxia are Chinese Fictionalized stories surrounding the exploits of Martial artists, Some date back more then 2000 years.
Films based on these stories where at their most popular in the 1960's and 70's where Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest studios turned out new films on a monthly basis.
Now this 2011 film by Peter Ho-Sun Chan (Bodyguards and Assassins) and starring the it man of the moment ,yes Donnie Yen is back .
Joining Donnie are actors Takeshi Kanershiro ( Red Cliff ,K20) and Tang Wei (Lust Caution) . Also joining the cast is veteran actor and Wuxia artist Jimmy Wang Yu.
When two men arrive in a small village in the mountains they take it on themselves to rob the general store ,amongst the commotion the elderly owners are beaten and there only saviour is the local Paper Miller ( Liu Jinxi ) who is in the shop at the time , Jinxi is hiding behind one of the counters as the fracas erupts into violence , not being able to withstand the cries of the owners any-more Jinxi leaps out from behind the counter to grab one of the robbers and hold on to him as tight as he can .
Constantly taking a beating from the men which are now intent on killing him by what ever means. It seems by sheer luck that this mild mannered man is able to survive the onslaught as he uses his body and feet to repel his attackers with one man coming unstuck when he hits his head on a cupboard causing him to die.
With just one man left to deal with the two battle on ,bursting through the window into the nearby lake ,Still taking a beating Jinxi fights back as hard as he can striking the man and killing him .
With the arrival of the local Magistrate and detective Xu BaiJiu . It is discovered that upon examining the bodies that one of the men is a renowned criminal and killer Yan Dongsheng and wanted by the authorities .
The Magistrate declares that Liu Jinxi is a local hero and formally congratulates him ,which pleases the village folk and of course Jinxi's Wife and Children .
But detective Baijiu is not convinced ,he is perturbed that Jinxi ,a lowly peaceful paper Miller could defeat a hardened criminal and expert fighter like Dongsheng .
Baijiu sets about investigating the incident by interviewing the locals and the shop owners to find out what really happened behind the closed doors of the shop .
Now Baijiu is a persistent detective who is determined to get his man and uphold Justice ,more so then most as when a novice he let a young boy of a charge who ended up poisoning his parents and Baijiu ,lucky for Baijiu he survived but with detrimental damage to his body. Baijiu is also indirectly responsible for his Ex-wives fathers death.
A expert in Acupuncture and Physiology ,he goes about his investigation with intricacy ,stalking more or less Liu Jinxi's family ,questioning his wife when he's not around and making a unease amongst the villagers.
In the back of his mind he just knows there's more to Liu Jinxi then meets the eye ,he believes he is a master fighter and able to use Qi Energy for amazing power. He goes about trying to harm Jinxi to see if can use his Qi to protect himself ,thus disclosing his true self.
In a bid to get Baijiu of his back ,Jinxi tells Baijiu of his past ,that he was a convicted criminal imprisoned for murder ,released ten years ago ,hoping that this might get Baijiu to close the case and leave the village , but when news comes back that Jinxi's story has major flaws and no proof of who he says he is ,Baijiu realizes who he is ,but he needs a warrant and backup to arrest him.
Leaving the village with the aid of Jinxi Baijiu heads back home to ask his superiors for a warrant they refuse ,his only hope is the magistrate ,but even he puts obstacles in Baijiu's way ,requesting money for the warrant ,a amount that amounts to more then five years of Baijiu's wages.
Not to be stopped at carrying out his task ,Baijiu asks his ex-wife for the money ,she obliges and now the wheels are set in motion . Baijiu will return to the village with a Police escort to arrest Jinxi who he believes to be one Tang Long the second in command to the master of the 72 Demons ,a band of Tangut Warriors who know no bounds in savagery ,they are wanted for the murder of a butchers family some ten years before.
Now the magistrate hoping to get a reward for the news ,relays this information to the master of the 72 Demons . Now after ten years the master will reunite with his son ,he sends his men in to the village to bring Tang Long back and in the process burn the village ,it's now that Baijiu realizes what he has set in motion ,determined to stay Baijiu ends up all alone when his men leave for there own safety .
With the arrival of the masters men and his wife (13th Madam ,played by the legendary Kara Hui) Jinxi will have to put into motion his knowledge of the arts to protect the villagers and his family ,but Baijiu still has a trick or two up his sleeve.
Now at approx 116mins runtime Wuxia offers more then just your average Wuxia action fix. The first part of the film plays like a episode of CSI as Detective Baijiu pieces together the incident and how he thinks it happened .
Even as the viewer you start to wonder who Jinxi really is, Jinxi in turn is clever at playing to the detectives whim covering up any ideas Baijiu may have about him.
Now the action is not happening every minute here as the film is much deeper then that ,you actually end up disliking the Detective as his persistence brings so much trouble to the villagers, and in turn you feel for Jinxi ,even though you know that he has a shady past .
A word must go out to Jimmy Wang Yu and Kara Hui who turn in a couple of great performances even though their screen time is limited. Seeing both Jimmy Wang Yu and Kara Hui clash swords and hands with Donnie Yen is a landmark in any Martial arts fans book I’m sure.
The combination of Director Peter Ho-Sun Chan's direction and Donnie Yen's action combine to make a enjoyable two hours of entertainment that engages the brain well to .
Takeshi Kanershiro as the calm Detective Baijiu delivers as always a sturdy performance ,do I like his character ? I don't know ,maybe I like to dislike his persistence in bringing Jinxi to justice at the expense of hurting his wife and children.
Wuxia has come of age in this homage to those films we loved from the 60's and 70's and once again Donnie Yen proves he can deliver a stellar performance in the acting stakes as well as the action.
Score out of Ten = 8
Review Date : December 2011
Tang Wei (above ) Plays Donnie's Wife in the film.
Donnie is the Humble Paper Miller that everyone likes.
Watch out ! Oh to late Ear to day ,Gone tomorrow .
Takeshi Kanershiro (above) is the persistent Detective
The Return of Jimmy Wang Yu ,A legend in 60's and 70's Wuxia Cinema
Kara Hui back on form after a long stay away from the limelight.
Donnie strikes a pose!
|Directed by||Peter Chan|
|Produced by||Peter Chan |
|Written by||Aubrey Lam|
|Starring||Donnie Yen |
|Music by||Chan Kwong-wing |
|Cinematography||Lai Yiu-fai |
|Editing by||Derek Hui|
|Studio||We Pictures |
Stellar Mega Films
Dingsheng Cultural Industry Investment
Jiangsu Broadcasting Corporation
Yunnan Film Group
|Distributed by||We Distributions |
Lark Films Distribution
|Release date(s)||13 May 2011 (Cannes Film Festival) |
28 July 2011 (Hong Kong)
|Running time||111 minutes (Cannes) |
116 minutes (Hong Kong)
114 minutes (China)
|Country||Hong Kong |
|Language||Mandarin and Sichuanese (CN/TW) |
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