The New Legend of Shaolin (1994)
Reviewed by: pjshimmer on 2002-04-21
New Legend of Shaolin isn't one of Jet Li's best or worst; it is a mix of comedy, revenge/hatred themes and earthshaking kung fu, which is undoubtedly the best part of the movie. In fact, everyone should see this movie just for the fantastic fight scenes!

Wong Jing directed at least 2 similar movies starring Jet Li in 1994 - Kung Fu Colt Master and New Legend of Shaolin. Both films are based on popular folk heroes/novels, and both contain similar flaws. In New Legend, the story, diolagues and acting are never convincing; 90% of the music is borrowed from Jet Li's Tai-Chi Master from the previous year; but the fight scenes are something else: Breathtaking battles between various characters in many forms! Believe it or not, the villain strolls around in a spaceship-mobile, which is both new and enjoyable (if not off the wall) to the period martial arts genre.

The plot is horrible: So many underdeveloped moments that could have easily been more convincing-if only with better acting and more than 2 spoken words. Basically you'll probably get the story, but you KNOW it's not real because you can't feel it.

Jet Li, my co-favorite of all time, usually makes a big impression on we audiences because of his characters' heroic personality. However, Hong Xi Guan (whom Jet plays here) is ruthless and reserved, and takes everything too seriously. Jet Li only smiled ONCE (at the very end) in the entire film. Not to say he is not a fine actor--even with an anti-social character, but this is just a different role for him. Honestly though, no one could have played the role better than Li Lian Jie.

I think New Legend & Kung Fu Colt Master are similar in that they both contain marvelous fights, flawed acting and plot, and familiar cast. Overall, I prefer Kung Fu Colt, but both are good material to watch over time. Dispite severe flaws, the fighting presented here is genius and a definite plus--one of Jet Li's finest! The fighting, that is...