Wing Chun (1994)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2005-07-24
Summary: Another triumph for Michelle Yeoh
While this movie has little to do with the actual founding of the Wing Chun system it has its place in history. The shot of Michelle Yeoh as Wing Chun, pulling a spear from a rocky cliff face, one foot braced against the cliff, her body as tight and lethal as a drawn bow and her face a study of relaxed concentration has become one of the minor iconic images of martial arts cinema.

And deservedly so. The movie itself goes from strength to strength. Michelle is terrific, Donnie Yen is effective as her childhood sweetheart who returns to her, only to find himself smitten (mistakenly) by a beautiful girl he thinks is the grown up Wing Chun.

There is excellent action choreography, especially the scene in which Wing Chun defeats a villain while also handling a tofu cake the size of a manhole cover. Another is embedded in an extended fight with Flying Chimpanzee when she lures the spear wielding FC into a very small space where his weapon becomes a hindrance. The great Yeun Wo Ping directed and did some of the fight choreography and everyone involved responded with superlative efforts.

The twice-thwarted romance between Wing Chun and Leung Pok To is central to the story and not simply tacked on to pad out the time between fights. The viewer really cares about both the characters and wants them to succeed—not only as defenders of the weak but as human beings with real wants and desires. Michelle Yeoh looks great in her appropriately androgynous costuming. Women in male drag are a staple of HK filmmaking but Wing Chun is so gorgeous, so noble and so adept at kung fu that the filmic “reality” both comments on and undermines the convention. Pile all the male accoutrements available onto the perfect woman and she is still the perfect woman.

Reviewer Score: 8