After a 14-year hiatus from filmmaking director Woo-ping Yuen ("Drunken Master") spins a kung fu fantasy saga that seeps with bizarre elements that border on the macabre. Woo-ping wrote the book on martial arts action sequences. His mastery of the form is on fitful display here. "True Legend" is based on a tale of Chinese folk hero Su Qi-er (aka Beggar Su Can). Su (Man Cheuk Chiu) is a warrior-general during the 19th century Qing Dynasty. Su is awarded a governorship after leading an impressive attack to rescue a prince from an impossibly high tower stronghold where the film's astonishing first fight scenes occur.
More interested in starting a family and teaching wushu that serving as governor, Su passes along the honor to his adopted brother Yuan (masterfully played by Andy On). During the years that follow, Su marries Yuan Lie's sister Yuan Ying (Zhou Xun). The married couple have a son named Feng. Yuan, on the other hand turns out to be a bad apple. He masters the dark art of the poisonous Five Venom Fists. Apparently the result of this dark bargain is that Yuan turns into a pasty-skinned version of a Gothic kung fu super villain. Yuan has metal plates sewn into the skin of his chest and back, making him invincible. After killing Su's father, Yuan comes calling on Su to kidnap Yuan Ying and Feng.
A classic revenge plot follows. Even though the film's third act slips into clichéd tropes that mirror the overstated Chinese nationalist themes expressed via the recent Ip Man films, there are some truly amazing fight scenes on display. The film's mano y mano battle on a waterfall overhang will leave you gasping for air.
Rated R. 114 mins. (B) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference True Legend: