…that's the way Gordon Chan's "FIST OF LEGEND" was dubbed before; it displays Chen as a little cocky, a little arrogant but honorable young man. Dragon Dynasty has restored the film's original language track with excellent subtitles. You would not believe just how bad dubbing can affect a film, the only thing that the Dimension release had going for it was its great music, and it is uncut and titled the same. The film has been hailed as Jet Li's best film. The story behind "Fist of Legend" is loosely based on real life events and the film itself is a remake of Bruce Lee's "Chinese Connection" (Asian title: FIST OF FURY).
Chen Zhen is a young martial artist sent to Japan to study and find new skills and methods so that the Chinese may combat the Japanese more effectively. While in Japan, Chen receives word that his master had been killed in a duel with a Japanese master named Akutagawa (Jackson Liu). Chen returns home to Shanghai to pay his last respects and decides to get to the bottom of his master's death. After a quick fight with the Japanese master, Chen determines that Akutagawa couldn't have beaten his master in a duel. The military soon becomes involved to discredit the school, and social differences threaten to take the school and its masters apart. All the more setting events in motion that would set Chen and the Jing Wu school on a collision course with Japanese authorities.
The film's main premise would be the conflict between the Chinese and the Japanese, or rather, who are the best fighters? But the film does delve into something much deeper. The film also explores the differences and social tensions between the Chinese and the Japanese. The film is well-acted (if you use the real language track) and characters are nicely developed. The court drama in the first half may be a little lacking and far-fetched, but I thought it wisely represented the social differences between the two countries. Mitsuko (Nakayama Shinobu) is a blessed presence for Chen and wow! Jet gets a beautiful Japanese leading lady. The tensions between Jing Wu's new master Ting-An (Siu Hou Chin) were excellently played. Chen's encounter with an honorable Japanese master named Fuimo Funakashi (played by Yasuaki Kurata), different styles are on display even blindfolds as they fight to prove their superiority which ends in a resolution that reinforced their respect for each other.
Well, all these intricate storytelling are set aside for numerous fight sequences which is the film's main draw. Legendary fight choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping (Kill Bill, Fearless) earns his paycheck, the fights are nicely shot and excellently executed. Jet Li fights a bunch of students in Akutagawa's dojo, is just a great sight to behold under a masterful hand, it also brought back memories from Bruce Lee's original. The moves are on display and the techniques are perfect. While some films use action scenes to delay a film's resolution, "Fist of Legend" uses action to get to the films' resolution. The majority of the fights looked very realistic while some are the usual wire fu that Jet Li does.
The fight sequences are excellently placed and does further add to the film's strengths. The fights are quite long and radiate sheer intensity. The fight between Chen and Fuimo is arguably the best one. Fuimo's experience and ability to adapt to Chen's style may have given him the upper hand, and I really thought that this fight represented what true Martial Arts should really be about. It is just so incredible to see the two styles clash that maintains a certain amount of honor and sensibility. Chen's climactic encounter with General Fujita (Billy Chow) may well be etched in action fanboys' memory as one of the best fights ever captured on film; the final fight is long, at times brutal. The only reason why I preferred the Chen/Fuimo fight to the Chen/Fujita fight is because while the final fight was spectacular, I was a little turned off with the use of a belt (?) against a katana. Realism was thrown out after all the hard-hitting precision, I felt that it deserved a better climax. Sorry, it just takes a nose dive, a nunchaku would have been more believable as in "Chinese Connection".
Yes, this film has been hailed as Jet Li's best films and it is a loosely based prequel/sequel of sorts to "Fearless". The film is the living epitome of Li's younger days and a worthwhile display of his skills--also has been hailed as one of the greatest martial arts action films of all time. There is just such "guilty pleasure" when you see Jet Li beating the tar out of everyone and he does it so--looking precise and cool. The film just has boatloads of action and is sure to please martial arts fans!
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! [4 ½ Stars]
VIDEO/AUDIO: 2.40 excellent anamorphic widescreen. Very nice transfer and well beats the letterboxed version by Dimension. 5.1 Dolby Digital English Dubbed track, 2.0 stereo Catonese/Japanese Language track, 2.0 stereo Mandarin Laguage track. Why didn't Dragon Dynasty remaster the original Cantonese track to 5.1 DD??
Almost 3 hours of extras! You don't need the commentary by Bey Logan--should have been given the Cantonese track the 5.1 Dolby Digital treatment!
Deleted scenes- a must-see!
Interview with Gordon Chan a must-see!
Way of the Warrior- interview with Japanese legend Kurata Yasuaki- must-see!
School of Hard-knocks- screen fighting seminar at Kurata's school.
How come Brett Ratner and Elvis Mitchell gets to give their two points for the film??
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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.