Fung Hin-Man (Donnie Yen) is a legendary warrior who lives now elderly, along with a friend, their memories and their remorse. When a young man comes to him, Fung tells him the story of when he saved the villagers from their oppressors and speaks of the death of the woman he loved. But the young man does not know that it is actually a hit man who wants to kill Fung for the fame that this murder would bring.
This directorial debut of Yen is full of a kung-fu protége's indulgence with kung- fu -- his worship of physical power, his belief in commitment and obligation, and even his impertinence towards women all illustrate his devotion. But the film is also direct, sincere and without any affectations. Judging from the level of skill and technique, it is much more accomplished than other action flicks that aim solely at the overseas market. In the several fighting scenes shot in the woods, the action is superbly complemented by the physical environment, and the framing and editing are also innovative. As a new action film director, Yang is definitely talented and promising.
I have seen thousands of martial arts films, ranging from the Hong Kong classics of the 70's to the mixed genre, CGI works of the present day. This is my favorite one. The fight scenes are the single most beautiful, incredible spectacles I've seen in any action film.
Visually, Donnie Yen's kung fu vehicle is quite stunning, with some classy location shots and smart uses of lighting and colour. That aside, its entertainment value is vastly hindered by the choppy fight sequences laden with cuts and rapid sound effects which are clearly an attempt at revolutionary film making, but just come across as annoying. The story bears little resemblance to the Bruce Lee classic, with Yen and his assistant recalling, in a series of flashbacks, a time when Donnie was a wondering hero with amnesia, in search of a girl and beating the crap out of evil bandit men. There is a pretentious feel to all this, but on the plus side, Donnie is at his usually stunning best.
Also known as Legend of the Wolf and Chin long chuen suet (original title)