With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Monday, May 23, 2016

RISE OF THE LEGEND reviewed; available today on Blu-ray & DVD

Well Go USA
Rise of the Legend / Huang feihong zhi yingxiong you meng
Directed by Chow Hin Yeung
Hong Kong/China, 2014, 132 minutes

Rise of the Legend is the latest entry in the huge filmography of movies about the martial artist folk hero Wong Fei Hong. The film will debut on Blu-ray™ and DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, May 24th from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Over a roughly thirty year period, Hong Kong actor Kwan Tak-hing starred as Wong in over 70 films. Jet Li portrayed him in several films in the mid- and late-1990s. In this new origins story, Eddie Peng (Unbeatable) has the honor of playing Wong, and he acquits himself quite well.

Eddoe Peng as Wong Fei Hong

Hong Kong action legend Sammo Hung stars as Wong's nemesis Master Lei, the leader of the Black Tiger Gang who seeks to defeat the rival North Sea Gang for control of the Hunagpu Doc in Guangzhou in the late 1860s. While the foreign tade at the pier is lucrative, of equal or greaater importnace are the Black Tiger Gang's opium dens, gambling houses and brothels, each controlled by one of Lei's three adopted sons.

Wong, a supremely righteous martial artist, infiltrates the gang to bring back to his native town. Aiding him are friends from his childhood: Fiery (actor Jing Boran, The Guillotines) and Chun (actress Wang Luodan, The Continent). Angelababy (Tai Chi Zero) plays Orchid, a courtesan who also provides assistance.

Sammo Hung as Master Lei

Rounding out the cast are Tony Leung Ka-Fai (Tai Chi Hero) as Wong's father, a doctor, who seen in some flashback scenes, and Jin Zhang (Kill Zone 2) as Wu Long, the son of the boss of the North Sea Gang.

There are numerous, fine action scenes. In separate scenes both Peng as Wong and Jing as Fiery each have one-against-many battles. The opening fight is one of these, as Peng fights many opponents in a narrow street. (This scene takes place in the rain and reminded me of the opening fight in Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster, although that one took place at night and this one occurs in daylight.)

Angelababy as Orchid

Corey Yuen served as the film's action director and the only thing that I was a bit unhappy about was his rather excessive use of wire-work. This especially was the case with Sammo Hung's fight scenes. Now I love Sammo, but his girth has only increased in recent years, and I find it a bit upsetting to see him flying through the air as he often does here.

Still, this is a minor complaint and doesn't change the fact that Rise of the Legend is a very satisfying and well-crafted film overall.

Blu-ray & DVD Disc Specs:
-- Audio
  -- Mandarin DTS 5.1 HDMA
  -- Mandarin 2.0 Stereo
  -- English DTS 5.1 HDMA
  -- English 2.0 Stereo
-- Subtitles
  -- English
  -- Off
-- Bonus Features Include:
  -- Five part “Making of” Featurette
    -- Characters (2:11)
    -- Eddie Peng (1:51)
    -- Injuries (2:11)
    -- Cinematography (2:19)
    -- Special Effects (2:10)
  -- Trailer
-- Previews
  -- Kill Zone 2
  -- Ip Man 3
  -- Kung Fu Killer

AsianCineFest Rating: 3 out of 4 stars; a solidly recommended martial arts action film.

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