Once Upon a Time in China V (1994)
Reviewed by: pjshimmer on 2002-08-26
Summary: Back on track again
As the OUATIC series' popularity declined following the decline of the martial arts genre, you might expect the quality of the movies to do the same. However, rest assured that OUATIC V is not only one of the best in the series, but it is also one of the best in the genre. It is a well-crafted cinematic piece that will more than satisfy true fans of the genre.

Having watched all 6 installments to the series, I feel confident about it being one of the greatest movie series ever and certainly my personal favorite. This part, specifically, ranks as my second favorite out of the six. As underrated as it is, there is currently no decent print of this film on the market. You have a choice between the Tai Seng VHS and the Universe DVD, which I think is even worse than the VHS. Either way, they are of terrible quality.

The movie is truly well-crafted. Although Zhao Wen Zhou's ability as a martial artist is not as strong as Jet Li's, he looks quite good in the fight scenes. There are several outstanding scenes, and you will be on the edge of your seat. Also, this has the most humor out of all six episodes. Part 2 attempted to bring out some funny stuff, but it just didn't work. Zhao Wen Zhou, a bit slow himself, is a better comedian than most people would expect, and certainly better than Jet Li on most ocassions. You will have plenty of good laughs. At the same time, you get some serious drama too, so this is a very well-mixed movie.

Note on the cinemotography and setting. The movie actually looks older than its predecessors. It looks to have been made in the 80s, with all the Western movie elements. It's just a different experience than watching part 1-4. The production value is quite good tho, and you will eventually adjust.

I can't say enough good things about this new wave gem. One can only hope for a remastered print.