True Legend (2010)

Directed by
Maybe worth a look
Reviewed by Simon on 2010-12-02

Yuen Wo-Ping returns to the director's chair after an extended absence to have a go at the post-FEARLESS big budget kung fu film, and it's not a bad effort. Zhao Wen-Zhao, Jet Li's eternal shadow, takes the lead role - didn't realise he was supposed to be the famous Beggar So until after the fact... possibly the untranslated Chinese text would have explained that if I understood it. Chances are the story has little grounding in fact or history anyway so it probably doesn't matter.

Wo Ping has never had the skills of narrative and character development of directors like Ronnie Yu and Wilson Yip, so it's no surprise that these aspects aren't as well realised as in Fearless or Ip Man. ZWZ has never had the acting talent or charisma of Jet Li or latter day Donnie Yen, so it's no surprise he doesn't pull off the role as well as they do theirs - though he has improved a little with age. He's still quite impressive physically, too, and the action scenes are of the kind of high standard you'd expect of Yuen Wo-Ping.

Zhou Xun is as weird looking as ever, and out-acts the rest of the cast quite comprehensively. There are small roles for old school legends Michelle Yeoh, Leung Kar-Yan and Gordon Liu which is a nice treat for the fans, and hopefully helps them to pay their bills. Jay Chou has a bizarre but enjoyable role as the God of Wushu.

The film is not great, but perfectly satisfying, up until the last 20-30 minutes. The main story arc is pretty much finished, then there's effectively an extended coda that feels unnecessary - except to bring it in line with the kind of Chinese nationalism expected in a kung fu film after FEARLESS. At least nobody bleats on about the importance of unifying the nation, whatever the sacrifice - though there is plenty of "keep the family together at all costs" talk that could easily be read that way if you're so inclined (with the kid as a metaphorical Taiwan, no doubt).

Worth a look, but more so for fans than casual movie goers I think.