Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fist Of Legend review

I'm not particularly optimistic about remakes. Or takes on Bruce Lee.
Yesterday I decided to finally give in and watch Jet Li's Fist Of Legend, a 1994 remake of Bruce Lee's memorable 1972 Fist Of Fury, and I must say I was more than surprised.

It's part of the Huo Yuanjia universe of films and their different takes on the real life Kung Fu legend.
I had already seen Fearless (2006) which stars Jet Li as Huo himself, detailing his life up until his murder, and Fist Of Fury (1972), which follows Bruce Lee as Chen Zhen, a fictitious student of Huo out for revenge, and here we have Fist Of Legend (1994), with Jet Li playing the role as Chen after his master Huo's death. A little confusing, especially when looking at the time the films were made and the time in the story at which they are set.

Putting all of this aside, I watched the film with an open mind, and instead of seeing cheap attempts at reenacting memorable scenes from the Bruce Lee film, I saw the same tale with different fight scenes, these ones bringing to the forefront Jet Li's speed at executing complex choreography whilst keeping far away from Jackie Chan gimmicks and keeping close to Kung Fu.
One thing I liked about Fist Of Legend was the emphasis on fighting styles; no longer was it as black and white as Chinese or Japanese, but instead Jet displayed light footwork as a nod to Bruce, western boxing techniques and surprisingly, no nunchucks; that's right, the nunchucks are out along with the disguises and death scene at the end.

All the stops have been taken to make this an almost different film altogether, but does that alone make it good?
Jet Li's performance is great, both in and out of fight scenes, but it's the fights that make this film great. Fast and furious, this stands among Jet's best, and is easily watchable straight after Fearless without seeming like a step back in time.

All in all, this is an all round solid Chinese martial arts film. Revenge plot, love story, a man against the government and plenty of fighting make this a strong descendant of Fist Of Fury, and anyone who is a fan of the original should be prepared to be impressed with this.

A score?

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