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New Legend of Shaolin (1994)

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Starring:

-Jet Li
-Tse Miu
-Chingmy Yau

Synopsis:

Jet Li plays a warrior whose entire family has been killed by evil government soldiers. Only he and his son survive. Many years later, they take up a job as bodyguard for a well-to-do local man. In the process, they discover that a new woman in his life is trying to take him for what he has got. They get involved in the protection of a group of young Shaolin students who have parts of a map tatooed on their back, which leads to a treasure that the government doesn't want Shaolin to have.

Review:

Oh man, I really should just give up on the Wong Jing thing.... actually I did. I didn't mean to pick up another Wong Jing movie. I rented this not really thinking about it. Funny enough, about two minutes into the film, I didn't need to ask who directed it. If you like your fair share of Wong Jing style, then you may enjoy this film. Otherwise, steer way clear, because only some mildy amusing fight scenes redeem this film.

The premise of this film isn't bad. It doesn't exactly tread new ground for kung fu films, but its got your basic hard-ass hero with a tragic past up against the evil government. Unfortunately, the film just goes all over the map. It starts out somewhat dark and on a down note. Within a short time, it is pure goofiness. Then at other times, it might calm down again. We have our plot regarding Jet Li's past (I didn't bother to remember his character's name, by the way...). We have the plot regarding the map tatooes. Then, we'll throw in a completely goofy subplot with Wong Jing staple Chingmy Yau trying to screw a wealthy man out of his money. While a multi-dimensional plot is nice, this movie goes all over the place, only to its detriment.

Of course, expect truckloads of Wong Jing's craziness. All kinds of gags are thrown in with the Chingmy Yau subplot, which are fitting to said subplot but an annoyance with respect to the main plots. Once again, Wong Jing manages to also be able to make action and violence goofy... and I don't mean Jackie Chan goofy. Maybe ridiculous is a better term. Let us not forget about the ridiculous vehicle the villain drives around in near the end of the film. What the hell is that? This is ancient friggin' China! Maybe I'm getting carried away, but I really do not like this style. I should be fair, though, and say that this is Wong Jing's style and some people go for it. You need to decide if you are one of those people.

Fight scenes have some decent stuff to show, though. I believe it is Corey Yuen (who has worked with Wong Jing on many films) that is responsible for these scenes and it shows. He has a solid reputation for his choreography and it shows through here at moments, though it is certainly not up to the level of some of the more memorable 90's kung fu films. Unfortunately, his time with Wong Jing has influenced his style and so goofiness pervades plenty of times. Nonetheless, it is some solid stuff.

So, this movie reiterates why I am at the point where I just pass on anything by Wong Jing. The ridiculous, over-the-top, all-over-the-map style of his films does not sit well with me. This movie is exactly in line with that style. To be fair, this was entirely more watchable than City Hunter and High Risk. There were at least a few moment of amusement and enough decent fighting to make it bearable. Fans of Wong Jing's stuff should give this a look, especially if they are Jet Li fans. If you don't like Wong Jing's stuff, though, stay miles away.

Director:

-Wong Jing

Language/Cuts:

-English dubbed.
-U.S. cut from Columbia.

Grade:

D