It didn't take long for Donnie Yen to start starring in movies. A stunt double once and then suddenly he's a main actor! The career seems to be have been a lot bumpier for the likes of people like Jackie Chan, and then of course there are all those talented martial artists who made a few appearances but never actually made it further than that. I guess it's all about charm huh?
Donnie Yen plays a rich kid, with a poor brother, with a greedy dad, who bullies the bully, unintentionally deals him some serious damage, and one day ends up poor and lost in the world when the bully's dad (who was also a rich kid JSYK) hires an assassin to kill Donnie Yen (in the movie known as Chan Chuen Chung (what name huh!). So the assassin sneaks in one night when Chan happens to be at a party, and when Chan comes back... they're all dead. He grieves and leaves, and eventually stumbles into the arms of a Tai-chi master and his wife... though he doesn't know this yet.
They do some teaching, he does some training, the killer does some searching, Chan does some saving-the-killer's-kid-without-knowing-who-he-is and we're left in a tricky situation. It all ends a bit shallowly with a fight to the death (?), and so much for Drunken Tai-Chi, there's not much drinking involved at all, and the rich kid eventually flips out completely and kills his dad, but despite these loose ends it's really a great movie. Great fights, a glimpse into Asian culture in times of oldskool... and it's Donnie Yen's first movie! What're you expecting? I'm more used to seeing him in street fights, but these traditional styles he masters. Oh, and go look up the merits of some of the people he plays against. They've been around!! I wonder what kind of connections he had to land a first role such as this one? Great movie.
rated 4/5: fo shizzle
They really should've worked on timing the endings better with these, but up till the final moment at least this was a top-notch flick. Donnie Yen in his prime. Tai Chi boxing. Old master Cheung-Yan Yuen. Shun-Yee Yuen as the villainous Killer Bird. Best fireworks fight I've seen so far, a bike fight that rivals the Jackie Chan stuff in Project A, some bad-ass puppetry and mime-type breakdancing ahead of its time, and whatever happened to the fat Tai Chi lady? She was really good too. Played by Lydia Shum for reference.
Unfortunately there are loose ends, but the pacing's great, the tale of family and vengeance doesn't feel as cliche here as it does in some of these movies, and uplifting and more serious moments take turns throughout. Good balance. It might seem a little unnaturally crude and finite sometimes, but such is life right? In a way it feels like we've been distanced from the essentials.
Drunken Boxing might be the one people will remember of these two, but this one's definitely worth coming back to too. Another Kung Fu classic. Only here it's: Tai Chi.
rated 4/5: fo shizzle