Once Upon A Time In China IV (1993)

Directed by
The low point of the series
Reviewed by Simon on 2021-12-04

Zhao Wen-Zhao takes over from Jet Li in the 4th film of the Once Upon A Time In China series, another tale of dastardly foreigners and misguided Chinese zealots with a patriotic and noble Wong Fei-Hung caught in the middle and some lion dancing.

Tsui Hark wrote the script but steps down from the director's chair this time, with Yuen Bun serving as both director and action director. The film is pretty enough but the action is overly cartoonish and lacks spatiotemporal coherence.

Zhao Wen-Zhao has about 1/10th the emotional range of Jet Li and seemingly everybody is badly dubbed by somebody else in post, so the film struggles to generate much drama. I'd be interested to see the Mandarin dub for this one, the Cantonese is so sloppy it feels like it might not have been the primary dub - though that would have been unlikely in 1993.

Overall OUATIC4 feels like a tired rehash of the previous films that apart from a 14th Aunt adds nothing new to the series, instead doubling down on the aspects that made the previous film the weakest such as the interminable lion dances.