If you can read this, it means I have yet to be disappeared because of my14 Blades
review. Well, in a related issue, I am going to make this a double film review.
Because the only good, fair thing to do is treatTrue Legend/蘇乞兒as two films. My reasons will become clear, and I ask your indulgence.Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the cinema, the Gang of Film(電影人幫)is once again loose.
Not loose, really, just going to Olympian City for the third night in a row, to see the fourth movie of the week.
True Legend/蘇乞兒is directed by Yuen Wo Ping. My needs are met
right there."Is this not the ugliest f@#$ing jacket you've ever seen?""Yeah... she digs me."Speaking of directors, Feng Xiaogong has a cameo:"It does it's homework or it watches The Banquet again."Zhou Xun costars."Oh my God... Is that... the guy who directedThe Banquet
? Help!!!"And she sweats a lot.Allmy needs are met."That hand comes near me again, I'm breaking it..."Michelle Yeoh makes an appearance."Get that Silverhawk costume away from me!"Even Jay Chou shows up, without having changed out of his outfit from the Pride Parade:Jay Chou is... The Gay Avenger!The legendary Gordon Liu has a criminally small role, but at least he's on board, which is always a plus.
Chicks can't hold the smoke…that's what it is!”It stars Andy On as the Ancient Chinese Terminator."我要殺死孔子. 我會回來的."
True Legend/蘇乞兒stars Vincent Zhao, once one of Hong Kong cinema's great martial artists..That's him, I promise.True Legend/蘇乞兒 tells the story of Beggar Su, the man credited with inventing Drunken Fist. He fights a lot, has a family, then fights, then drinks, then fights.
Hey, I didn't watch this movie for its complex narrative.
I watched this movie for the martial arts, and I was definitely not disappointed.True Legend/蘇乞兒was, according to director Yuen Wo Ping, supposed to be a return to authenticity in martial arts films, and while "authentic martial arts in film" is a wildly relative term, I'd say he succeeded admirably.
"I only asked if anyone had seen The Blade
!"Much of that credit goes to the choreography, but also to the people in charge of the wires. Yuen Wo Ping is the master of wire work, so anyone working for or with him has to bring their
A game, and these guys do.Rainbow FistWhile we all know that wire work is inherently fake, the degree of fakeness (?) can vary wildly. InTrue Legend/蘇乞兒, people seem to at least obey some of the minor laws of physics even as they ignore the major ones (i.e. humans can't jump 30 ft., but if they did they would look like
this, etc.).The martial arts themselves are better than we've seen in a good while. Vincent Zhao is no longer young (neither am I), but he still moves with grace and speed. But you're only as good as the people you're fighting. The quality of martial arts
onscreen can generally be judged by the length of individual shots. The
better the artist, the more moves they can execute before reaching the
outside of their abilities.
Andy On deserves a lot of credit. He keeps up with one of 'those' guys, with the man who replaced Jet Li as Wong Fei Hong.
He does it while made up to look like a Kung Fu zombie. His character has apparently been studying the Five Venoms technique, and so, thanks to a little CGI black smoke, he can wield the Stink Palm of Death:
This is what the doughnut sees... (RI joke).Being tasked with one of the more colorful characters in the film, Andy does a good job of being believable and realistic, again relatively.
In fairness, how realistic can you make a guy who has armor sewn into his own flesh and lets all manner of venomous animal life sting him on a daily basis?
To fix Andy's makeup, they unplugged him and he would shut down.What I enjoyed about his performance was that he never flinched. He managed a very constant and consistent air of menace and creepiness, broken occasionally by flashes of completely psychopathic behavior."Don't touch my sister!!!"None of his scenes are in 3-D. That's reserved for Vincent Zhao, Jay Chou, and Gordon Liu.
I'm not going to say anything about the 3-D because my mother always says "If you don't have anything nice to say, then shut your f@#$ing mouth..."
True Legend/蘇乞兒 is, in some ways, a love story about two people who refuse to be apart. Today, Phish headlined the Coachella Festival in China.I found those scenes rather touching, if only because you know real life isn't like that, but it would be nice if it was.
Especially if it was with Zhou Xun.
The film moves along a fairly straight path, with a few twists thrown in here and there. It'ssolidly a genre film, but a very, very solid
And that's what we're here for.
We want Zhou Xun in a field of daisies, running naked with-
Scratch that last one.
True Legend/蘇乞兒 promised a lot of ass-kicking, and it both
doesquite a lot of it.
But there's more to it. There's more than just love and fighting.
Note to Irish Catholics: yes, they can be two separate things.
The plot of the film, or at least the story you watch for more than 2/3 of the film, resolves.
But the film doesn't end there.A title card comes up. It says
At this point in the movie, Istrongly
encourage you to get up and leave the theater. You will missnothing
of value.Then it takes a vicious
left turn so bizarre, insulting, and distasteful that you'd think the
script was written by the same person who wrote
godsThe Party with
protecting the Sacred Flame of the Olympic Torch.
Zhou Xunplaysthe torch.
I'm joking, but sadly I may as well not be.
I'll let the
synopsistell it (edited for spoilers):
Meanwhile, the Heilongjiang Province where Su resides falls under foreigners’ rule... At the critical moment, [Su] lets out the utmost strength that has lay dormant in him during all his devastated time, and it becomes the strongest school of fists that the martial arts world has ever known...True Legend
is poised to amaze the world’s kung fu fans once again as the highest manifestation of Chinese martial arts in movies.That's all well and good -
No ma'am, that's not tobacco, that's my tongue.
-but what you get is a clumsy re-hash of the final fight scene from
Fearless, but with
triplethe jingoism. Don't believe me? Look:"Welcome to Ultimate Jewish Fighting Championships..."The plot of this second story is very simple (and simply told):
Big, bad, cheating, evil foreigners who oppress China must be destroyed. Look at them, they are brutes. And they cheat. And they are evil. Did I tell you about the foreigners? They are bad...
alcoholicwill set things right!I think David Carradine died the way he did because he didn't want people to remember him poorly.
Which this film willcertainly
do for him.
He plays the bad, bad leader of the bad, bad foreigners:
"I'll be at my hotel with two hookers and a jump rope..."
Jay Chou appears in a different role in a scene that is gripping and entertaining.
Because you can't believe how dumb it is, and it's hilariously moronic.Jay Chou as Josef Stalin in 他媽的俄羅斯
I'm not spoiling anything by telling you that the foreigners get their @sses handed to them and China is victorious.
China up, ho's down!
------------------------------------------------------------------------Chinese New Year 2010: Four movies in two days.Two movies in a row get sideswiped by a large truck with
CHINESE GOOD (that's not a typo) painted on the side.
I didn't get the license plate, officer, but it left these huge red paint streaks...There are lots of reasons I loathe
Nationalism: The Final Chapter.
It brutally sh*ts up an otherwise solid, engaging film in a grossly tangential, jingoistic and downright f@#$ing stupid manner.
Especially since they still somehow managed to tolerate having a Japanese person do the music. Because every good Chinese person knows howJapanese
This movie resembles
The Crying Game, but more symbolically than literally
You thought you were getting a Golden Chicken, but it turns out you got the Cock of the Walk.It's as if a 7-year old kid you've been watching for 70 minutes turns out to be a 40-something man with Anti-Aging Disorder...
Oh wait, that'sMurderer.It's as if
The Passion of the Christ showed Jesus get up from his grave after 3 days and promptly go enlist in the Israeli army, defending his homeland from towel-headed subversionists.
Oh wait, that's14 Blades.Partially it bugs me
because it steps all over Chinese New Year (this isn't a new year film
per se, but it is
releasedduring CNY) with a big didactic boot.
Well, I hate to break it to the PRC, but CNY stands forChineseNew Year, not
China's New Year.Mao: "Chung Gwok Fat Choi, biatches!"
Guard: "Talk to the hand.""
Lighten up, Francis." - SGT HulkaThe main reason this bothers me is because the first 70% of the film is really,
reallygood and I want all of you to go see it and support it.
It bothers me that a film so
wrongand in such a wildly
It bothers me because I feel really,
reallybad criticizing a movie that so many people who deserve a lot of credit and congratulation get stuck being puppets of the nationalism machine, especially when its not their fault.
It's just a complete f@#$ing shame that the solid, respectable performances by so many people in the cast of this film are now inexorably tied to this totally inappropriate extra appendage stitched onto what was otherwise a fairly great movie.
Imagine Zhou Xun, but with my face surgically (and poorly) implanted on her lower back (off-center): she's still hot, if you can just ignore that one... thing...It doesn't belong there, it shouldn't be there, and shame on whoever did it.
But as long as I can look down, thank you.So please, go seeTrue Legend/蘇乞兒.
I promise you'll enjoy it.
It's well-made, interesting, and entertaining.
Watch it, enjoy it, and have a grand old time.
It's a really
greatfilm.But when you see theDrunken Fist
title card, get the f@#$ outof the theater.
If you do that, you will see one of the best martial arts films of the last ten years.If you don't, at least you'll see what I mean.
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