AKA: Once Upon a Time in China 2
Director: Tsui Hark
Producer: Ng See Yuen, Tsui Hark
Cast: Jet Li, Donnie Yen Chi Tan, Rosamund Kwan Chi Lam, David Chiang Da Wei, Max Mok Siu Chung, Hung Yan Yan, Zhang Tie Lin, Paul Fonoroff, William Ho Ka Kui, Yen Shi Kwan, Deon Lam Dik On, Ernest Mauser, Mike Miller, Mike Leeder
Running Time: 112 min.
By James H.
We all know the rule of the sequels. We all know they match the original. However, there are a few exceptions to said rule: “Godfather, Part II”, “Evil Dead 2”, “Terminator 2”, “The Empire Strikes Back” (and “Jedi”), “Star Trek II” and “Superman IV”. “Once Upon a Time in China II” isn’t quite up there, but it does come close.
In this film now, we meet up with Wong Fei-Hung, Aunt Yee (13) and Foon (Porky and Buck Teeth are left behind), as they are on their way to Canton. While there they get caught in the middle of an uprising by a crazed religious sect, known as the White Lotus. Punching and kicking ensues.
The ante has been upped for the sequel. The pace is faster, the action is more intense, and the humor is more broad, and funnier. I liked a scene where Fei-Hung demonstrates acupuncture on Foon, when they are bombarded by a barrage of burning arrows. The only thing that was taken down was the script. It is less complex, and as a result less involving.
No matter though, this is a sequel. Like “A Better Tomorrow II”, this is all about the cash cow; pack the asses in the seats and make some money. Along the way, it has some great stops. The fights are longer and more imaginative. Li’s speed and ability will dazzle you again.
The first of the five sequels may not be on par with the epic original, but it sure is a fun ride.
James H’s Rating: 7.5/10
OUATIC was a bonafide classic wire-fu movie but I actually prefer this sequel as it has two great final fight calibre battles. The story is still great although you do have to see the original first or you may complain about the lack of character development. The OUATIC series is just so engrossing and you can see why they were hits as the films on the big screen must be amazing (I have the VCD).
The soundtrack for the movie fits in well, as do the comedy scenes involving Wong Fey Hong thinking his protege is a lecherous pervert and the only real bad point I can think of off the top of my head is that the film ends. This is one of the best wire-fu films around and is my favorite Jet Li movie I’ve seen so far, although I am awaiting five VCDs as I write. Still, you can’t argue with the quality of this…
Tequila’s Rating: 10/10, no questions asked.
When you’ve got a hit you know that a sequel is right around the corner, and when you make a sequel that was as well received as the second installment of Once Upon a Time in China, it’s only a matter of time before you see the next sequel, and so on and so forth ad infinitum. Fortunately, Tsui Hark’s third Wong Fei Hong film is every bit as good as the first two, IF you get a good copy.
I first saw this film from a friend’s collection. I didn’t understand a word of it because the dialogue was in Cantonese (or perhaps Mandarin-I’m not certain) and the subtitles weren’t made up of the King’s English, but rather Korean characters. I couldn’t figure out a word, but the impact of the film was still clear enough, as Jet Li kicked his way to victory. All of the various fight scenes were contrived, but that didn’t matter, because by the time I got to the end of the film everyone was fighting each other in lion costumes that could fly, breathe fire, shoot spears, etc. and it was ridiculously cool.
I was quite happy when I finally acquired an English dubbed version of the film. Of course, I had to settle for a poorly copied VHS tape, but that is pretty much the way it goes when you’ve got to have dubbing. I was surprised and frustrated, however when I discovered that the film I had purchased was substantively different from what I had previously seen. There were several new fight sequences, and the old ones were shorter. The new stuff wasn’t bad at all, but it simply didn’t fit well with everything else that was going on in the film. Also, I think some of the important dialogue was cut as well, because the English-speaking characters made about as much sense as when they were speaking Cantonese.
Andrew’s Rating: 7.5/10