In 1920's China, the nation is divided by infighting,Japan has become the most powerful force in Asia,taking over Northern Shanghai. With the city torn in half ,the popular nightclub "Casablanca"becomes a hotbed for spies,mobsters,English officials and the Japanese military-all looking to gain control of the country,with little regard for its citizens.
Legendary Chinese folk hero Chen Zhen(Donnie Yen) returns to China pretending to be wealthy playboy "KU" during the day and masked avenger at night ,determined to stop the Japanese invasion.Zhen becomes entangled with sultry show girl Kiki(Shu Qi) who has a secret all her own.Zhen's secret past catches up to him and he is forced to face impossible odds .
The opening action sequence that takes place in Europe ,where Chen Zhen and the allied forces fight against the Nazis ,is one of the best kinetic martial arts fights I've seen in a while....definitely well worth the price of admission.
Though director Andrew Lau(INFERNAL AFFAIRS) tries his best to mix martial arts and drama a la Ang Lee.
The attempt at a FISTS OF FURY / LUST/CAUTION mash-up,unfortunately falls short.
Now being a child of the 70's...1970's not 1870's,silly...
I was brought up on a healthy first run diet of classic martial arts cinema from the likes of Bruce Lee, Sonny Chiba, and Gordon Liu.
I was and am a fan of those legends as well as Jackie Chan ,Sammo Hung, and Jet Li.
Donnie Yen ,even though legend in his own right still hasn't been able to make it big here in the U.S.
Maybe with this film and the current release of "Ip Man",Yen just might crossover.
Yen is definitely the saving grace here..his charisma and martial arts prowess save this film every time he jumps into action.
Even though this film is far from perfect,the one/two punch of the fight sequences and Yen's Martial artistry well make up for it!
opens in limted release April 22nd