Director: Law Wing-cheong
Writer: Yang Zhenjian
Producer: Pang Hong, Yang Zhenjian.
Cast: Xing Yu, Steve Yoo Seung Jun, Jiang Baocheng, Yasuaki Kurata, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi
Running Time: 115 min.
The Wrath of Vajra is a mainland Chinese action film helmed by Law Wing-cheong (Punished, Iceman) and starring Yu Xing (Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons), an ex-Shaolin monk turned martial arts actor. This is Yu Xing’s first starring role.
The Temple of Hades is a cult-like sect founded by Kawao Amano (Yasuaki Kurata of Fight! Dragon TV series, Heroes of the East and Shanghai Express). Hades abducts children (boys) and trains them to be merciless assassins for the Emperor. These assassins are then sent out all over China as part of Japan’s warfare strategy to destroy China spiritually, whatever that means.
Early on in the film, the imprisoned Amano is approached by the military to resurrect Hades. Overjoyed, Kawao whole-heartedly agrees and assigns one of his top recruits, Kurashige Daisuke aka K-28 (Sung-jun Yoo of Man of Tai Chi and Chinese Zodiac), to lead Hades back to prominence for the Emperor.
Amano’s daughter, Eko (Yamei Zhang), is on-hand as an idealistic journalist, helping to propagate the Hades Sect and its expansion all over China through her articles and pictures. Eko naively believes her father that the objective of the Hades is to bring together the Chinese and Japanese, so the two cultures can exist in harmony.
Kurashige sets in motion a number of kidnappings and abductions, including multi-national military personnel of soldiers that is thrown in the mix. Among one of the abductees is junior monk Qing Kong (Fu Jiayuan).
Twelve years earlier, K-29 (Yu Xing) escapes from the clutches of Hades after a match with his brother goes very wrong, ending in him killing his brother. In that time, K-29 took refuge in a Shaolin Temple and trained, biding his time to return to Hades and seek revenge.
While at the temple he was taught to master “The Wrath of Vajra”, a very deadly move that require 17-seconds of pure concentration evoking “death” that has to be practiced with total compassion. Huh? I’m not sure where to even begin to explain that. Let’s just say it’s a very deadly and powerful move.
The abduction of Qing Kong, who trains with K-29 at the same temple, was enough to bring him out in the open to return to Hades to rescue the little monk and put an end to Hades’ reign of terror (credit). This ultimately leads to the climax of the film, the inevitable battle between K-29 and K-28.
Sung-jun Yoo is a former K-Pop star and one of South Korea’s biggest selling artists with over 5 million records sold there. Just before being drafted for military service in 2002, he became a naturalized American citizen and left South Korea for America creating some controversy. He made his movie debut as Prince Wen in Jackie Chan’s Little Big Soldier. Yoo now primarily concentrates on his second career as an actor and amateur body builder. His physique is definitely something to behold.
Yu Xing has been in a number of movies and has been acting since 2001. He has played a number of non-memorable characters over the years showcasing his kung fu prowess. His skills are indeed very impressive. His acting, on the other hand, is not so impressive.
It was good to see Yasuaki Kurata back on the big screen. He is already in his late 60’s and I’ve always wondered if someone with his skill level of expertise in Karate, Judo and Aikido can still kick some behind. The scriptwriters should have written more material for him. Perhaps a tutoring scene with K-29 would have been a definite bonus. And yes, I think he could still fight even at his age.
The Wrath of Vajra is Yu Xing’s first major starring role and with that came very high expectations. The cinematography is good. The use of CG, slow-motion zoom shots and wires do add to the enjoyment of the fight scenes. However, the film is incoherent and badly written. The plot is generic and bland. Other than the nifty fight scenes interspersed throughout the film, there is not much going on here.
oneleaf’s Rating: 5/10