For Martial Arts Fans
Fists and legs fly across the screen.
Martial arts action rules each scene.
Our hero fights the top bad guy
who killed his dad. Could that be why?
Rise of the Legend shows the way
an orphan worked to save the day
for the poor and folks just like him
by using cunning, skills, and vim.
Eddie Peng shines as daring Fei,
who works real hard to make Lei pay.
Sammo Hung portrays Lei so well.
Where he should go, we’d like to tell.
But flashbacks interrupt the plot.
Too many make us want them not.
And CGI with martial arts
just weakens them in certain parts.
If you decide to see this show,
I sure won’t warn you not to go.
There’s lots of action, blood and gore.
You might leave saying, “I want more!”
FULL DISCLOSURE: As an avid fan of Jackie Chan (who played this same real-life Chinese folk hero in Drunken Master), I love the cleverly choreographed martial arts sequences in most of his films. Rise of the Legend falls more into the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon type of martial arts movie. Opponents sometimes fly through the air and even freeze frame there. Unfortunately, that takes me out of the film and dampens my interest in and enjoyment of the story being told. I just can’t help it!
This latest fictionalized version of Wong Fei Hung’s exploits focuses on his early life in the mid-1800s. Taking over the key role, Eddie Peng plays it for dramatic -- not comedic -- effect. (Jet Li also delivered a dramatic portrayal of the populist hero in the Once Upon a Time in China flicks.) Fortunately, Peng is easy on the eye, and his martial arts skills look quite impressive. I predict a bright on-screen future for him. The role of a corrupt crime boss goes to Sammo Hung, who excels as Master Lei, leader of the Black Tiger gang. Lei adopts Fei, but only after the young man delivers the head of a rival to him. Using his new position, Fei soon involves his friends (played by Boran Jing, Luodang Wang, and Angelababy) and fellow orphans in secret -- and highly dangerous -- plans to rid the community of corruption.
Although the fight scenes here evoke some thrills, they go on way too long. And I already mentioned those overdone flashbacks. But I can’t complain about the film’s cinematography, costumes and sets, which help create a fine sense of place for this epic 2-and-a-half-hour motion picture.
(Released by Universal Pictures International; not rated by MPAA.)
For more information about Rise of the Legend, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.