Fist of Legend (1994)
Reviewed by: Arshadnm6 on 2005-04-18
Summary: The film that made Jet Li a Legend.....
This popular remake of Bruce Lee's classic Fist of Fury casts Jet Li in the shadow of Bruce. While studying in Japan, Chen Zhen (played by Jet Li from ‘My Father is a Hero’, ‘Hitman’ and ‘High Risk’) receives news that his old martial arts teacher, Master Ho has suddenly passed away following the lose of a martial arts contest against a rival Japanese marital arts school. Chen Zhen instantly returns to China and discovers that master Ho died whilst fighting a Japanese soldier (played by Lau Hok-Yin from ‘First Strike’). Chen Zhen finds it difficult to believe that master Ho would lose to such an amateur-ranked fighter (played by Jackson Lau from ‘China Strike Force’ and ‘Police Story 4: First Strike’), so he challenges the Japanese soldier himself only to easily defeat him and his students and therefore, orders an autopsy to discover the true reason behind his master’s. On discovering that master Ho was poisoned, Chen Zhen seeks the truth and tries to piece together the clues left behind. Meanwhile, since the Japanese are trying to exert their influence over the whole of China, Chen Zhen plots vengeance by fighting several Japanese martial artists. Finally, a senior general’s (Billy Chow from ‘Eastern Condors’ ‘High Risk’ and ‘Dr. Wai in ‘The Scripture with no Words’) intentions become clear behind the death of Master Ho and Chen Zhen is constantly at odds against pursuing a Japanese love-interest, allaying uncertainties by master Ho’s son (played by Chin Siu-Ho from ‘Mr. Vampire’, ‘The Tai Chi Master’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars’) of his inheritance over the Chinese martial arts school, facing martial arts challenges and uncovering the whole truth. A veteran Japanese martial arts master (played by Yasuaki Kurata from ‘So Close’, ‘The millionaire’s Express’ and ‘Conman in Tokyo’) also appears throughout the movie as Chen Zhen’s love-interest’s uncle along with a hesitant senior police officer (played by Yuen Cheug-Yan from ‘Iron Monkey’, ‘The Tai Chi Master’ and ‘Last Hero in China’).

The action is hard-hitting, realistic and a breath of fresh air with respect to other fast-forwarded and wire-worked fight scenes in all other martial arts movies. The movie does carry some twists and deals with the issues of responsibility, family honour, respect, tradition and so on. It seems to be very high-budget and intentionally carries the claustrophobic feel of bustling and crowded town areas. Moreover, the storyline is very straight-forward but carries several sub-plots and the acting is top-notch since all of the characters seem to grow from their experiences throughout the movie (especially Chen Zhen). The fight scenes originally utilise strategy and different types of fighters which is clearly visible from the adaptive techniques used and portrayed by action choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping. However, there is one flaw in this movie since all of the female actors are demoted to inferior roles as petit, cute and well cultured and mannered damsels, most of the time (as done in ‘Project A part I and II’ and ‘Lady Rose and Mr. Canton’). This may be a little sexist and opinionated considered that most of the male actors are martial arts practitioners and somewhat brutish and hormone-driven. A possible explanation for this could be director Gordon Chan’s view of females, as repeated in other movies like ‘2000A.D.’.

This movie improves on the classic ‘Fist of Fury’ and injects more life into it as well as developing many other aspects of the predecessor. The emotions felt by the characters and complex situations encountered are wonderfully captured. Also, this movie was mainly introduced worldwide by director Quentin Tarantino (directed ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Jackie Brown’ and ‘Kill Bill Volume I and II’) and has been the envy of all other martial arts movie-makers. This movie must have been responsible for pushing action star Jet Li and fight choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping to international stardom.

Overall, this movie uses new techniques (in action and acting) which pay-off quite well. It also shows that a lot of thought and effort was invested into making this movie. In my view it is the best martial arts movie to-date.

Overall Rating: 8.3/10
Reviewer Score: 8