It was my pleasure recently to watch Fist of Legend in its Two-Disc Ultimate Edition from Dragon Dynasty. This 1994 film starring Jet Li and Chin Siu-Ho teams them with a brilliant fight choreographer, Yuen Wo-ping (who also choreographed Tai Chi Master and The Matrix), for a brilliant combination of story and martial arts prowess. As if that weren’t enough, this movie is also a tribute to Bruce Lee‘s classic movie The Chinese Connection.
Before I get into the plot of this great story, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk a bit about the history that sets the stage. In 1937, the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) invaded and attacked China. They started with Beiping and Tianjin, then reinforced and attacked Shanghai, eventually taking it after a hard fought battle with the Chinese. Over the next few years, fighting continued and horrible losses were suffered on all sides.
Fist of Fury begins with Chen Zhen (Jet Li), a Chinese student in Japan, discovering that his Master Huo back in Shanghai had been defeated by the Japanese in a challenge. Chen Zhen headed back to Shanghai to investigate his master’s death.
Over the course of the story, we see Li always trying to do what’s best for his Master’s school and for China. This puts him squarely in the sights of the Japanese, who do their best to make his and his friends’ lives very difficult. Eventually, Chen Zhen sacrifices himself to avoid further bloodshed.
As a martial artist, Jet Li is among those at the top of my list. Bruce Lee will always be #1. Jet Li is #2. And Jackie Chan is #3. All three are amazing to watch. And this movie solidifies Jet Li’s position as the greatest living martial artist of our time for me.
Where else can you see Jet Li fight blindfolded during one battle, fight with a belt against an opponent with a katana, and hardly break a sweat until the final battle of the movie? He was at the top of his form for this film (not that he isn’t now, but he’s not doing this type of movie any longer).
And unlike Tai Chi Master, there is no obvious wire work done. Most of the amazing fight choreography is simply that — amazing choreography with a cast of unbelievable martial artists.
- Commentary from Hong Kong Cinema Expert Bey Logan
- An interview with director Gordon Chan
- An interview with Japanese Action Legend Kurata Yasuaki
- A screen fighting seminar from the Kurata Action School
- Commentary from director Brett Ratner and critic Elvis Mitchell
- A set of five deleted scenes
It’s jam-packed with martial arts movie goodies. And, this is the unrated version at 103 minutes. If you are a martial arts movie fan or a fan of Jet Li’s, this movie is a must have for your collection!
Get your copy on September 9, 2008!
It gets a solid 4 out of 4 for me.