Re: Rate & Mini-Summarize the Last Movie You Saw
Wuxia/Hong Kong cinema galore!
Enter The Dragon ~ Starring Bruce Lee, John Saxon, & Jim Kelly
Bruce Lee's last hurrah, as it were, and what a hurrah it is. A film about a man who goes on to investigate supposed drug and prostitution dealings, with the perpetrator being a former Shaolin follower named Han. The man (Bruce Lee) joins a martial arts tournament under the guise of being a participant in order to get closer to solving the investigation, while he cooperates with two other men with their own reasoning for being on the island.
As a kung fu film, it's decent, and full of some good, choreographed action that depicts each of the combatants in a surprising and engaging light. It's best viewed as an action film, but the pacing near the beginning somewhat hurts it, and it's quite rare to see an actual fight in the first hour or so. The meat of the action occurs during the final 30 or so minutes. It doesn't measure up to the Big Boss or Fist of Fury, but it's on par with Way of the Dragon, I believe. Hollywood just didn't cater to Bruce Lee's strengths all too well, and it didn't feel too much like a Bruce Lee film ought to feel. Granted, the ending fight was innovative for its time and has created a lot of imitators, but other than that, there is nothing of note here that Bruce Lee fans haven't seen before.
Overall, a decent kung fu Hollywood flick, but it pales in comparison to Bruce Lee's previous ventures in the genre. This serves much better as a teaser to those earlier films, an appetizer to be blunt.
Rating ~ 6.2/10
Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story ~ Starring Jason Scott Lee & Lauren Holly
An embellished biographical film of sorts, and based on the book Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew attributed to Bruce Lee's wife, Linda Lee. It details the accounts of Bruce Lee's life with a plethora of embellishments, both exaggerated and blatantly fictionalized.
I thought the film was well done, emotional, and a heartwarming chronicle of Bruce Lee's life, just abridged and fictionalized for the sake of cinema. The music is memorable, and the fight scenes that are here, such as the first major one in the film that comes about as a result of Bruce Lee teaching non-chinese students, are great but cut short, as unfortunate as it is. It's not a kung fu or action film as much as it is drama, and it excels here. I felt genuinely connected to the characters, to Bruce Lee and his wife, among others. When it came time for the end, I clapped because I wanted to see more of this man's life, but within the 100 or so minutes of the film, I was satisfied and felt as if I knew him.
Overall, great stuff. Remarkable sophomore effort from the man who'd later go on to direct Dragonheart, The Fast and Furious, and xXx. I loved it, and that's all I can say.
Rating ~ 8.9/10
The One Armed Swordsman ~ Starring Jimmy Wang Fu
A film about a man who loses his arm in a swordfight (well, it's arguable) and while he falls in love with the woman who takes care of him, there is something amiss and someone is targetting his master.
One of the pioneers of Hong Kong/Wuxia cinema, if you call yourself a fan of wuxia films, this film is a must-see education on how some of the cornerstones of the genre began. This is one of Chang Cheh's best films, and it's arguably one of the best the Shaw Brothers have ever produced. The effects may seem cheesy nowadays, but for its time, it was more than adequate. The action is a bit choppy at times, but that doesn't take away from the fact this film oozes brilliance. It was the first real violent wuxia film, and it shows. The choreography hasn't aged well, but I believe that's what makes it even better. Strange, I know, but it's what I believe.
Overall, a pioneer in Hong Kong cinema and one of the finest Cheh has ever directed, and the Shaw Brothers have ever produced. If you're a fan of Hong Kong/Wuxia cinema like I am, there is no missing The One Armed Swordsman.
Rating ~ 8.6/10
Fist of Legend ~ Starring Jet Li & Yasuaki Kurata
A remake of Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury, Fist of Legend casts Jet Li as the character of Chen Zhen as he attempts to defend the honor of Jingwu school against the japanese.
To be honest, I prefer this one over Bruce Lee's version. Not because it is newer, shinier, or because it has a cleaner aesthetic, but because as a whole, it's a superior film. As much as Bruce Lee kicks ass in the original, Jet Li does just the same in this one, and this film also incorporates an emotional element in the form of Jet Li's japanese love interest, Mitsuko. Not to mention, it has one of the greatest fights known to Hong Long cinema - the long awaited encounter between Jet Li and japanese martial artist Yasuaki, who's talented in his own right. It's an incredible fight scene - actually, all the fight scenes in this film range from good to excellent, and this is not a small feat. It's made possible by not just the talent of the martial artists involved, but due to the choreography of Yuen Woo Ping, who'd go on to action direct films such as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Matrix, Kill Bill, and the Forbidden Kingdom. The japanese in this film are also not portrayed in a biased light, which can be attributed to the easing of relations between the two countries now, while in retrospect, Bruce Lee's time was much more tense.
Overall, I believe this is a superior film to Bruce Lee's. Old school or nostalgic kung fu film fans will perhaps disagree with such an assessment, but I believe it. Both films are great action films in their own right, but Fist of Legend adds so much without diliuting the foundation of its premise that it is the complete package.
Rating ~ 9.4/10
Coming Up Soon
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
The Big Boss
Curse of the Golden Flower
The Legend of the Black Scorpion