Fist of Legend (1994) Review

"Fist of Legend" French DVD Cover

"Fist of Legend" French DVD Cover

Director: Gordon Chan
Writer: Gordon Chan, Kim Yip
Producer: Jet Li
Cast: Jet Li, Shinobu Nakayama, Chin Siu Ho, Yasuaki Kurata, Paul Chun, Billy Chow, Ada Choi Siu Fan, Yuen Cheung Yan, Jackson Lau Hok Yin, Wong Sun, Derek Cheung Chi Chuen, Chow Gam Kong, Dang Taai Woh
Running Time: 98 min.

By Dan-O

Hyperkinetic. That’s what they’ll call it.

Know what I call it? You don’t wanna know what I call it. And I call “IT” the same thing I call remakes.

“Who ya gonna call?”. Sorry, I… had to say that.

Fist of Legend is fine for what it is, but it is not a kung fu movie. It’s a “hyperkinetic” pant-load. To put this on the level with Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan films would be cause for me to punch your balls off.

“Hi, I’m Jet Li! I have wires attached to all areas of my body including my rear-area! Watch me ‘leap’ 40 feet into the air! Whee! People don’t seem to notice or even give 2 craparoones that my fight scenes have more cuts that 178 MTV videos stacked end-to-end, so I just keep cranking out these here movies. Helloooooo Hollywood!!”

Thanks to this movie, and others like it, we now have those wonderful fight scenes in the Matrix that everyone seems to circle-jerk over. Joy! Thanks Yuen Poo-Wing, or Woo-Ping. whatever. thank you for that. Marvelous job. Stupendous. Fantastic. You’re the bee’s-knees m’man! You go girl! (in the background, the reviewer loads his trusty shotgun and tucks his airline tickets into a new nylon duffle-bag for his upcoming “visit” to Hong Kong).

Dan-O’s Rating: 6/10 (Okay, so the movie wasn’t THAT bad. I just enjoy being a major, MAJOR asshole.)

By Perkele

Fuck off all you fastidious Bruce Lee fans who think that this is an insult towards the original “Fist of Fury”. Face it: the one and only good thing about “Fist of Fury” is Bruce Lee. I mean, if the film’s star would be someone like Jimmy Wang Yu [all respects to Jimmy], nobody would regard it as a classic nowadays! Its story is stupid, Lo Wei’s direction poor and it’s one of the most racist and anti-Japanese movies ever filmed. These elements however are not present in “Fist of Legend”. In a matter of fact, “Fist of Legend” has almost the best story, acting and editing ever to appear in a HK kung fu film.

Jet Li gives his most charismatic performances to date and the rest of the cast [especially Chin Siu Ho and Yasuki Kurata] are also superb [Note: I’m reviewing here the original, uncut, subtitled HK version of the movie]. You can’t find better fight choreography from another 90’s martial arts flick — Yuen Woo-Ping is at his best. The bouts look realistic and here comes the best part: nobody’s flying!

The final fight with Billy Chow is too far-fetched and long, I guess Woo-Ping ran out of ideas or something. Both Billy and Jet seem to be knocked down for about three times during the fight, but every fucking time they stand up again, ready to rumble. And after Jet has finally whipped Billy’s ass with his belt, I expected his trousers to tumble down. That should’ve happened!

If this was a Jackie Chan flick, Jackie most certainly would’ve included that [I almost laughed out loud only when I thought about it], but this is a serious action-drama [like “Fist of Fury”], not some wacky kung fu comedy. The most stupid thing nevertheless is the cop-out ending where is revealed that Zen Zen [or whoever, played by Jet Li anyway] wasn’t actually killed! This ending sucks big time and it almost leaves a bad taste in your mouth. But still. Highly recommended!

Perkele’s Rating: 9/10

By Yi-Long

This movie, together with Drunken Master 2, is my favourite martial arts movie ever! The movie is the classic story of Chen Cheh, A student from the Ching Wu kung fu school, who comes back after he finds out his master has been killed by a Japanese Karate master.He soon finds out his master was poisened. Well. although this is a classic story, there are some differences in this movie from the 1972 original Bruce Lee movie (Fist of Fury). First of all, Jet Li portray’s Chen Cheh as a smart, cool and thinking character, instead of Bruce’s young, wild and outraged portrayel of the character. Also, in the original movie, all Japanese in the movie were extremely evil, mean or obnoxious. In this modern version, only the Japanese general (Billy Chow) is evil. Almost all other Japanese are just normal people, caught in a war they never asked for.

Of course the fight scenes in this movie are ALOT better than those in the original. These are the best fight scenes u could ask for, with 3 of HK’s most talented martial artists (Jet Li, Chin Siu-Ho and Billy Chow) performing with and/or against each other. Another very good point about the fight-scenes are the fact that the wires are there only to enhance some action, not to MAKE the action. All action is extremely tight, fast and “realistic”; Jet Li has never looked better! Well, there u have it…A classic tale redone in a way Kung Fu fans could only dream of…. A perfect Kung Fu movie and a MUST WATCH for any Jet Li fan.

Yi-Long’s Rating: 9.5/10 (This score is for the original, subtitled HK-version, not the dubbed American version, which I haven’t seen)

By James H.

Jet Li is a good actor. I like him. He has a good sort of screen presence, maybe not as commanding as Sean Connery, but he’s still there. “Fist of Legend” is a good example. Jet plays Chen Zhen, a martial artsy kinda guy. He portrays him with a relaxed attitude, like he doesn’t feel the need to prove anything to the audience.

You may say, “James, I’ve heard of that Chen Zhen character before, but from where?” Well, I’ll tell you. Chen Zhen was the main character in a little known movie called “Fist of Fury” (or “Chinese Connection”, depending on which side of the world you live on), starring a little known actor named Bruce Lee. You see, what we have here with “Fist of Legend” is a case of Money Hungry Producer Syndrome. That’s when a producer takes a proven hit, and remakes it. Sometimes it works (“Payback”, “Thomas Crown Affair”) and sometimes it fails miserably (“Psycho”, “The Haunting”). This one succeeds.

Yeun Woo-Ping did the fight choreography for this film, and did one hell of a job. The fights are really well done, but are sped up, which rather ruins the effect. They flow very well, and do not jar the viewer like in “Black Mask”. The actors move and flow very well, very gracefully. Also, the wire effects are done well too. That meaning they don’t look overly ridiculous, and overly fake as, say, “Once Upon a Time in China & America”.

“Fist of Legend” was a fun movie to watch. Jet Li is good, but he shouldn’t be compared to Bruce Lee, because no one can compare to him. As I said, it’ s a fun movie, nothing spectacular, just good plain punching and kicking and “You killed my master!!” stuff. You know, fun.

James H’s Rating: 7.5/10

By Vic Nguyen

This remake of Bruce Lee’s classic Fist of Fury features the fast paced action direction of Yuen Woo-ping and the talents of Mainland martial artist, Jet Li. Li stars as Bruce’s character, Chen Zhen, the vengeful student out to gain revenge on his sifu’s death. Although Gordon Chan Kar-seung is credited as director, he was not on the set during a fraction of the picture. This is where Yuen Woo-ping takes over, delivering his blend of excellent choreography and methodical pacing, which is unfortunately overtaken by extreme, cartoonish undercraking. Despite this, the fights will likely satisfy even the most jaded kung fu fan, and the film overall will surely please most Bruce Lee fans.

Vic Nguyen’s Rating: 8.5/10

By Andrew

A re-make of a popular Bruce Lee flick, this is the best Jet Li film I have seen to date. Every line of dialogue is absolutely integral to the story and the choreography of the action sequences is first rate. Many of the fights are carefully planned and staged with convincing flying effects. There are only a few brawls – most fights are one-on-one situations, either contests or heated battles. The individual fights feature more amazing moves than the large scale encounters. I appreciated this movie for its exploration of racism and race issues which were exacerbated by war. This feels non-judgmental and everything occurs in a matter-of-fact way. Explicit racial insults and implicit assumptions are presented for what they are with no apologies.

Both the Japanese and the Chinese people in the film express racial reservations about each other, so it isn’t one sided either. It doesn’t help Jet Li’s character any that his girlfriend is Japanese, on top of the fact that he gets blamed for the death of Akutogawa, the sensei of a Japanese martial arts school. He has his hands full with trying to resolve the internal conflict of his own school. The only substantive plot twist (at least from what I can tell) comes at the end of the film. Because it is the end, I’m not going to share it with you- you’ll have to see it for yourself!

Andrew’s Rating: 9/10

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