Reviewed by Jill Harness on April 21, 2011.
Legend of the Fist: Return of Chen Zhen is a continuation of the saga of Chen Zhen, a legendary character of classic kung fu movies. For Westerners, the character is similar to James Bond, a cool action hero that has been played by everyone from Daniel Craig to Pierce Brosnan to Sean Connery. Similarly, Chen Zhen has been portrayed by some of the most famous kung fu actors in the world, including Bruce Lee and Jet Li.
This incarnation of Zhen is a follow up to the 1995 Chinese television show Fist of Fury and stars Donnie Yen, who played Zhen in the show.Â Comparing Donnie Yen to Bruce Lee is a little like comparing Daniel Craig to Sean Connery â€“it is difficult to say anyone is better than the actor who embodies the classic character, but for someone to be close to that level is incredible in itself.
Donnie Yen is an excellent fighter who started his career doing choreography for kung fu movies. But his skills extend far beyond his action sequences. He is also an incredible actor and his on-screen romance with Kiki (Shu Qi) shows that Yen can be just as sensitive as he can be tough.
Shu Qi is also great in the film and she looks simply stunning in the 1920â€™s period clothing of her character. In fact, all of the characterâ€™s costumes look wonderful, as do the settings. The film does an excellent job portraying a post-WWI China preparing for the invasion of the Japanese. There is a perfect balance between classic Chinese culture and Westernized Jazz Age styles that set the scene both stylistically and thematically.
The cinematography is gorgeous as well, pairing swooping shots of the city and detailed pans of the bouncing night club that serves as one of the main settings. This also makes for extremely satisfying violence as the shots look stunning while the full-force gore flies across the screen. In the first few minutes of the film, there was ample killing, including a graphic slicing of one enemyâ€™s Achilles heel and a brutal throat slashing. If you canâ€™t handle violence, you probably wonâ€™t like the film.
That being said, I think most people will greatly enjoy Legend of the Fist. The clothing, setting and romance are suitable for those looking for a touching love story and those looking for action are sure to be pleased. The film manages a perfect balance of beauty, violence, love, betrayal and revenge -enough to keep everyone watching.
I’d give it aout of 5.