Once Upon a Time in China (1991)
Reviewed by: SteelwireMantis on 2003-08-22
Summary: Jet Li's finest performance! A CLASSIC!!!
Jet Li portrays late legendary kung-fu master Wong Fei-Hung in Tsui Hark's classic masterpiece of the early 90's heading a star-studded cast to support him.

Wong Fei-Hung (Li) is a close friend of Commander Lau of the Black Flag army - a rebel against the 'unjust treaties' who travels to Vietnam to fight the French. Leaving his men behind, Wong vows to teach them and form a Militia to protect Fushan. Leung Foon (Yuen Biao) is a theatre actor with poor kung-fu skills and has landed in trouble with thugs from Shaho (lead by Yau Gin Gwok). He has fallen for 13th Aunt (Rosamund Kwan) and lands the Local Militia into trouble by having them arrested in a fight between the Militia and the thugs in a 'Forbidden Area'. Wong Fei-Hung has no choice but to capture the thugs and save his clinic Po Chi Lam. Things get worse for him as a Kung-Fu master Yim (Yen Shi-Kwan) wants to challenge him and open a Kung-Fu school in Fatshan. Leung Foon, Wong and Porky Wing (Kent Cheng) have no choice but to ambush the American territory and save innocent women from being shipped as hookers (as 13th Aunt is one of them).

This is a classic piece of cinema. It has everything a film expert could ask for; intriguing plot, beautiful cinematography, gripping performances, breath-taking kung-fu and excellent direction by Tsui Hark. This film makes up for the disappointing 'Master' as it is a way better movie. Jet Li gives one of the finest performances as Wong Fei-Hung (on the level of experienced Kwan Tak Hing), Yuen Biao is entertaining as Leung Foon yet he was replaced by Mok Siu Chung in the sequels. This is by far the best movie that Jet Li has made (yet his best KUNG-FU movie was 'Fist of Legend'). But this film has beauty, heart, soul, tension and just pure sheer class.

Acclaimed by critics worldwide, 'Once Upon a Time in China' should not be missed by any film buffs! Let alone HK Cinema fans.

*****/*****
Reviewer Score: 10