Avenging Fist, The | aka Legend of Tekken (2001) Review

"The Avenging Fist" Chinese DVD Cover

"The Avenging Fist" Chinese DVD Cover

Director: Andrew Lau, Corey Yuen
Writer: Thirteen Chan Sap Sam
Producer: Andrew Lau, Wong Jing
Cast: Stephen Fung, Wang Lee Hom, Sammo Hung, Chin Kar Lok, Roy Cheung, Gigi Leung Wing Kei, Kristy Yeung, Yuen Biao, Cecilia Yip, Benjamin Yuen, Brian Banowetz, Sammul Chan, Brian Ireland, Jackson Ng, Ron Smoorenburg, Yu Ka Ho, Ekin Cheng
Running Time: 96 min.

By JJ Hatfield

This movie had a number of reasons why it should be good entertainment. The names Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao starts things off right. Even the story, Tekken, uh, no wait I mean “Avenging Fist” wasn’t too bad an idea. Unfortunately when looking at names I should have noticed Wong Jing and Andy Lau. Not a good sign but I have experienced the type of comedy Wong Jing is known for and survived it. The largest problem began with Wong Jing. See, when you make a movie about something that is owned by someone else you are expected to pay for it.

Wong Jing: “Hey Andrew, let’s have a drink. You remember that Tekken movie we were gonna do?”

Andy: “You mean the one we just finished shooting?”

Wong Jing: “Well, yeah that one.”

Andy: “What about it?”

Wong Jing: “We need to make some changes buddy.

Andy: “What kind of changes?”

Wong Jing: “Everything that will cause guys in suits and sunglasses to visit me and break my knees. I know let’s make a movie off another movie but we’ll update it to the future. Ooooh I know how about the one where the bad guy is really the kid’s dad and he wears this cool mask. The dad not the kid. Wouldn’t Biao look supercool with a mask? I like it! Oh yeah and add some flying skateboards, machine dating, light sabers…

Andy: “That sounds a lot like those Star W…”

Wong Jing: “See you recognized the story right away. That way the audience doesn’t have to think. Audiences don’t like to think.”

JJ Hatfield’s Rating: 2/10

By Alexander

12 things I learned about the future while watching The Avenging Fist:

1. Mullets, headbands and denim jackets will be back in style.
2. White guys will still be getting their asses kicked by Asian martial artists.
3. Kristy Yang will still be the hottest female on the planet.
4. Hover scooters will indeed be a preferred mode of transportation, just as predicted in Back to the Future 2.
5. Huge video billboards will adorn massive skyscrapers, just as predicted in Blade Runner and Fifth Element.
6. There will be no sure-thing diet, as evidenced by Sammo Hung’s waistline.
7. Nintendo’s Power Glove accessory will become the most powerful weapon on the planet.
8. Traditional names like Jeff, Ryan and Alex will give way to bizarro monikers like Jazz, Meganova, Iron-surfer, Dark, Thunder and Combat 21.
9. People will say things like, “your father’s spermatozoon.”
10. Bad guys will dress in black leather trench coats and look suspiciously like Nazis (obviously forgetting that the Germans ultimately got their asses handed to them).
11. Hong Kong filmmakers have completely run out of original ideas.
12. Video game adaptations still suck.

The Avenging Fist gets off to a promising start with some rousing sci-fi/CGI enhanced fighting action set in a future obviously “inspired” by Blade Runner. However, the effects laden fights get old quickly and the lame-o story about a young man’s wielding of incredible powers screeches to a halt mid-way through the film.

The attractive cast and appearances by Hong Kong legends Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung are given little to work with and few scenes to showcase their talents. Kristy Yang excels at what she does best: looking gorgeous for the camera.

Had the film smartly ignored its cliched plot and simply provided a non-stop series of fight scenes while better utilizing the legendary talents of Biao and Hung, The Avenging Fist would have been a good, mindless action film on par with, say, Gen-X Cops. But its attempts at advancing the story at the expense of the promising action bogs the entire film down. I mean really, who gives a shit about Meganova’s romance with Gigi Leung’s character? Or the history behind the cheesy looking Power Glove? Or Sammo’s motives for helping Nova? Or Nova’s relationship with his Darth Vader “inspired” father? We want scenes of ass kicking, damnit!

Alexander’s Rating: 5.5/10

By Reefer

Does this sound familiar?

A boy dreams of knowing what his dead father was like. His dad is not dead, however, and has been taken over by a dark force of which he has mastered. A god-like emperor controls the masked dad and eventually attempts to pit him against his son or persuade him to join the team, using the sister as bait.

I liked this movie twenty-some years ago when it was called STAR WARS!!!!

Its seems that the makers of this film also wanted to send a statement to the special effects-loving world that they are officially in the game. The SFX are pretty good, but they by no means exceed what has already been done. Note to filmmakers: Being innovative does not mean ripping off the visual style of The Fifth Element, who in turned ripped off Blade Runner.

Avenging Fist doesn’t feature much real kung fu, mostly computer-generated movement and inexplicably edited sequences look like they were going for a more comic book feel. The main problem with these effects-driven battles is that the audience is not treated to any boundaries. The characters seem to make it up as they go along, unmindful of going too far or of what cannot be done.

The real treat here is getting to see Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung in the same movie again. In my opinion, these guys are royalty and I curse the day they retire. Yuen, unfortunately, is looking old and actually a little pudgy. Sammo apparently hasn’t changed his diet either. But even so, they are the best things on the screen and their understated and convincing performances earn the film every point that I give it.

The final confrontation serves as sort of a changing of the guard in Asian action cinema and I wish the two guys that apparently accept the torch would quietly give it back. I guess I have to give them time, but I don’t have too much confidence in Stephen Fung and the other guy’s succession of the Jackie, Sammo, and Yuen throne.

I wish I had more to say about Avenging Fist, but it’s full of so many recycled ideas that I am not sure I could say anything new about it.

Reefer’s Rating: 5/10

By T-Style

I personally was quite hyped up for this movie. The cast includes Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung. Yuen Kwai as the action director. Andrew Lau as the director. Anyone would dig this.

Nova is trying to figure out what had happened 20 years ago about his father’s death. His mother is keeping the truth from him because who knows why? At the same time, Combat 21 (yeah, what a name!) is plotting his evil deeds and Nova along with his friends get involved – as with any videogame-ish plot would.

Speaking of videogames, nothing in this movie was based on Tekken. Although the main characters do resemble Jin and Hworang from Tekken 3, the plot doesn’t. And I guess after being sued by Namco, they might as well throw in some other videogame fighters such as M. Bison and Vega. All characters having their own original names of course and blend them in, in their own future-ish world looking a lot like The Fifth Element with hovering cars and such – which reminds me of the cheesy and annoying “whoo hoos” of Lee Hom Wang in the opening scene with the hovering scooters. Nice scenery though.

It’s not even 10 minutes into film and I’m getting annoyed by Lee Hom. His typical teenage “I do stuff cuz I wanna” attitude is seen a dozen time. He felt more like a side kick character of a cool and calm. So the first fight comes up with Stephen Fung and the excitement begins. After Kiss of the Dragon, I wonder can Yuen Kwai top it? Fight begins and its….well….lets just say there are scenes where the background blurs with colors as a fighter bust his moves which really resembles a fucking Pokemon battle. And then we have them swinging their weapons in hyper speed where you can see a flurry of the hands holding the weapons on the screen which resembles a fucking Dragon Ball Z battle. Then I realize maybe Yuen Kwai didn’t have total control. Maybe this is what Andrew Lau considers a stylish fight scene.

My mind was thinking “fuck this movie…” but my eyes were still waiting for Sammo and Yuen Biao. It happened but did it get any better? Eh. The fights involving Yuen Biao is definitely worth watching. Watch for a pretty good hand-to-hand work with Lee Hom. He still got his kicks. Too bad I can’t say the same for Sammo which relied heavily on special effects that looked a bit too “whoa! what the fuck?!”. But above all this, there are some interesting looking moves to see and all those CGI eye candy stuff.

Movies like this just make me wish for more violence. Don’t CGI shit, just place a ketchup packet on his forehead and then smash it with your palm. I’m always down for low budget goodness. If the action genre in HK is defined as CGI, CGI, and more CGI, then it would never top their 80’s era which I considered as the “Golden Age” of HK action films.

T-Style’s Rating: 7/10

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About JJ Hatfield

i like movies
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