While in school in Japan, Chinese martial artist Chen Zhen(Jet Li) hears the news of his masters death at the hands of a Japanese martial artist. He returns to his school and later feuds with his masters killer. After very easily defeating him and his students. He then learns there was more to his masters death than first believed.-summary
Even though this is billed as a tribute film to Bruce Lee'sChinese Connection aka Fist of Fury. It's hard for to me see it as a tribute film. In fact, I don't look at Fist of Legend as a tribute at all. I see it simply as the borrowing of an idea, with intentions on making money, and there's nothing wrong with that. Especially, in a world where almost no idea is original. But, I'm glad to see this twist on a classic was very well pulled off. I'm also glad to see this film remastered. Hopefully, this means at some point it must have reached classic status as well.
I really do like this film, and I do like it better than Chinese Connection in terms of story mainly. I feel the film does a better job in its characterization when painting a picture of the Japanese race. Unlike Chinese Connection, the Japanese aren't all painted as an evil power hungry and abusive race. When coming out of that film, one may believe all Japanese to be a bunch of evil devils, and I just have a problem with that.
The film does an excellent job portraying the good ones in the race, which is a huge plus for me because I hate racial bigotry. There were good ones perfectly portrayed by the characters Mitsuko Yamada(Nakayama Shinobu) and Fumio Funakochi(Kurata Yasuaki). The storytelling has its interesting moments when displaying peoples racial hatred, as well as hinting towards a military conspiracy. It adds quite a bit of meat to the story, so it isn't completely one dimensional. The only weakness to the film would be the predictability. Most of the characters actions and plot elements are as predictable as the sunrise. Therefore, when the plot begins to unfold there's very little in the way of surprises.
Now for the major selling point which happens to be the fights. The action scenes are very cool to watch, with some good exchanges and weapon combat. There's also quite a bit of variety, with other martial artist getting an ample amount of screen time. One fight in particular which stands out for me happens to be Chen Zen vs. the older and wiser Funakochi. This battle stands as the best for me, due to the story being told during the fight with very little dialogue. The two highly trained martial artist are speaking through their actions. The fight choreography overall is well directed, with some very good one on one battles, one against many, and a school vs. school all out clash. The film is definitely no slouch in the action department. Action junkies will get their cash worth for sure.
The film also has a very intimidating lead villain in the form of General Go Fujita(Billy Chau). This guy just has that look and the voice of a killer, plus he's very well built up as a threat, and helps deliver a damn good final battle. However, as good as the battles are, I have to lean in favor of Lee's film, due to Chinese Connection being the more realistic of the two. As good as Fist of Legend is, wire fu just isn't combat and there's a bit of wire work here. But, it doesn't come off incredibly ridiculous.
The language settings are the only mixed bag for me. The English cast dub is ok at best, at times it has a rather disjointed feel. While the mandarin language felt a lot more smooth. The latter also possesses what I think to be the more superior soundtrack. The sound effects are pretty good, and doesn't consist of over the top and highly exaggerated fist to face sounds from the 80's, that we all know and love.
The features located in the extras are also worth mentioning. Now I don't always review extras, and I'm not going too now. I'll just list them without breaking them down. My intention is only to avoid spoilers, because everyone should come into them completely fresh. This is one of those rare cases where the extras are worth sitting through for me. They're definitely worth checking out.
The Man Behind The Legend: Gordan Chan
Brother in Arms: Chin Siu-Ho
The Way Of The Warrior: Kurata Yasuaki
The School of Hard Knocks: A screen fighting seminar at the celebrated Kurata action school
A Look At Fist of Legend: Brett Ratner & Elvis Mitchell
If your only Jet Li exposure is his american Hollywood releases. Then do yourself a favor and pick this up, personally I find it to be among his best, especially after revisiting both the Tai Chi Master and The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk. I'll just say those two weren't on the same level for my taste.
-Good characterization & fights
-Excellent DVD extras
- Minor issue with the dubbing
-Way too predictable
What did you think of this review?
Fist Of Legend (Chinese: 《精武英雄》; pinyin: Jīng Wǔ Yīngxióng; literally "Hero Of Jingwu") is a 1994 martial arts film starring martial artist Jet Li. It was directed by Gordon Chan and features action choreography by Yuen Woo-ping. It is a remake of Bruce Lee's 1972 film Fist of Fury. The film's setting is in Shanghai in 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War as the city is occupied by Japanese forces. It is regarded as one of the best martial arts films of all time, and almost universally viewed as Jet Li's best.