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Martial Arts of Shaolin (1986)

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The Shaolin Temple trio of films left a strong cultural impression. They brought Jet Li to the big screen, as one of several members of the Chinese national wushu team brought on board to execute the impressive choreography. They also featured extensive shooting at the temple itself, lending a real sense of history to proceedings. These combined factors brought about something of a renaissance for the Shaolin temple at the time and its martial arts tradition. The first two films … (read more)

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The Sorcerer and the White Snake (2011)

Remaking Hong Kong cinema’s greatest hits seems to have been all the rage lately. Last year we had Wilson Yip’s swing at remaking A Chinese Ghost Story and Tsui Hark’s second go at King Hu’s classic Dragon Inn. To be fair, Tsui’s Flying Swords of Dragon Gate ended up as more a sequel to New Dragon Gate Inn than a remake, and it was considerably more fun than I was expecting — I’ll write it up when I get … (read more)

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The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)

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The Forbidden Kingdom attracted huge attention from the moment it was rumoured that the world’s two biggest names in martial arts cinema would be working together. The J & J Project, they whispered. Yuen Wo Ping’s choreographing, they typed. There were naysayers, too: It’s American, from Miramax, and from the director of… Stuart Little, of all things. The trailers looked OK, though, with a strong emphasis on the action sequences, and it had Jet Li in … (read more)

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Fong Sai Yuk 2 (1993)

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The original Fong Sai Yuk is a highly entertaining film. It features breathtaking action, interesting plotlines, and a lot of chemistry between Sai-Yuk Fong (Jet Li) and Mrs Fong, i.e. his mother (legendary actress Josephine Siao). Combining all these elements successfully is not an easy task, and it is therefore perhaps not surprising that the sequel doesn’t quite deliver the same kind of magic as the first film.

Fong Sai Yuk 2 picks up where the first movie left off. … (read more)

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Once Upon a Time in China 2 (1992)

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In light of the Hong Kong box office success of Once Upon a Time in China (which was the 8th highest earner in 1991, making HK$29,672,278.00 over its 56 day run), it was only a matter of course before at least one sequel would get spawned. This being a Film Workshop baby, one could also justly expect the ante to be upped in the second work of what turned out to be a six movie series. The appointment of Yuen … (read more)

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Hero (2002)

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Well it’s been about two years since I first saw Zhang Yimou’s Hero and, at long last, I am getting around to writing a review. Sure this has to do with finally seeing it on the movie screen and it finally receiving a general release but my point is that I am in no way vain-glorious enough to believe that whatever audience this may very well reach is in anyway exclusive to HC and it is likely that that those … (read more)

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Fearless (2005)

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This is apparently to be Jet Li’s final martial arts film, a fact which saddens the whole of martial arts fandom. So there was a lot riding on this one: would Jet the martial artist go out with a bang, or with a whimper?

Well, fortunately for all of us, it’s a definite bang. Jet, no in his mid-forties, may have slowed down a little, but he’s still got the effortless grace and balance that made him a star. Watching … (read more)

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Last Hero in China (1993)

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Jet Li left the Once Upon A Time In China series after part three, but in Last Hero In China (his next film) he was imaginatively cast as Wong Fei Hung again. It begins like another episode of the series, but it doesn’t take long for Wong Jing’s signature stupidity to kick in. The film doesn’t really flow; it’s just a series of extended set pieces loosely tied together. The best of these by far is the strikingly surreal rope … (read more)

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