Monday, March 17, 2014

Legend of the Fist; The Return of Chen Zhen (2010) starring Donnie Yen

I have a confession to make I haven't seen Fist of Fury (1972) starring Bruce Lee.  I know, I know it's surprising and it is something I'll have to rectify in the near future.

I had somehow gotten into my head that Lee's Chen Zhen was a real historical figure who fought against the Japanese imperialists but a quick check shows me that I was wrong.  Chen Zhen was a fictional character who has been played my many actors after that including Jet Li and Donny Yen.
Yen first played Chen Zhen in the TV series Fist of Fury.

I saw an ad for Legend of The Fist during SBS Kung Fu Festival and  said I have to watch this.

The movie opens in World War I, where ill equipped  Chinese labourers are caught in the fighting and Chen Zhen is kicking Hun ass in several different ways using a pakour-like style that reminded me of Oliver Queen in Arrow.  When one of Zhen's friends dies, Zhen swaps identities and returns to China.

The film then skips to Shanghai in 1925 whiuch has been divided amongst the other allied nations including Britain and Japan.  Tensions are high and the Japanese are starting their imperial designs.  Chen Zhen ingratiates himself into the Casablanca Club where everyone comes.

When Zhen comes across an attack by the Japanese on a Chinese General, he steals the outfit advertising the movie The Masked Warrior.  The fact that Masked Warrior's outfit looks like Kato's from the Green Hornet probably isn't a coincidence.

Suddenly, The Masked Warrior is facing the Japanese and being a symbol of the resistance.  Kids are wearing masks and mask graffiti appears around the city. Curiously nothing much is made of this where a movie hero seemingly comes to life (The Cape had a similar conceit did a little of this)
The Japanese have a Chinese Patriot Kill List. Interestingly, Zhen is unable to save everyone on the list but and there are some brutal deaths. At the end Chen Zhen faces down the Japanese army brigade as himself with a pair of nunchukas.
This is a great film that homages Bruce Lee and well worth seeing.  It is a Chinese film and I saw the subtitled version.

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