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STUDIO: Vivendi Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes
- Behind the scenes
- QR Code inside packaging for access to more material
It’s Drunken Master…the last forty minutes anyway.
Director Yuen Woo Ping, Man Cheuk Chiu, Xun Shou, Michelle Yeoh, David Carradine, Vincent Zhao, Andy On, Guo Xiaodong
Warrior-turned martial arts teacher, Su Can (Man Cheuk Chiu) has his family destroyed by his vengeful adopted brother, Yuan Lie (Andy On), who is seeking payback against Su Can’s father, who killed his father then raised him as his son. Yuan has mastered the Five Venom Fist, and also had metal armor grafted directly on his skin to make him all but invincible. Su Can barely survives a fight with him and is tossed into a raging river by Yuan. Su Can’s wife, Yuan Ying (Xun Shou) jumps in after him to save his life, leaving their son in the clutches of Yuan. When he recovers, Su Can learns martial arts from the God of Wushu (Jay Chou) in daily sparring matches, which only he can see in his mind. He returns to challenge Yuan, paying a heavy price in the process. Later, Su Can wanders China with his son as a beggar and becomes involved with a fighting tournament which pits him against Western fighters and where he develops the Drunken Fist technique.
True Legend is really more like two films butted up against each other, and not very well. The first hour of the film is a tale of revenge and redemption for Su Can to defeat his traitorous and murderous adoptive brother, Yuan. As Su Can and Yuan were both generals in the Prince’s army, Su Can had the opportunity to become a governor, but gave the honor to Yuan, who was jealous of his favor with the Prince. Years later, Yuan returns and kills Su Can’s father and plans to take his sister, Su Can’s wife, Ying, and their son, Wan Kun and be a family. He almost kills Su Can and only Ying’s intervention saves his life. The entire middle part of the film is Su Can healing his damaged arm and sparring with the God of Wushu to learn the techniques he’ll need to defeat Yuan. The only thing is, only he can see the God of Wushu, and anybody else that observes him fighting – namely Ying – sees only a man apparently losing his mind sparring with no one. The return fight against Yuan is a spectacle of technique and martial arts ability that goes on for minutes. But when Su Can suffers a terrible loss as a result, that’s the end of that part of the story.
The film then picks up months later, with Su Can a beggar who’s given up on everything, and his loudmouth, whiny son in tow. Su Can reunites with a former friend from the army, but has little enthusiasm to see him. . All he’s interested in is his next drink. He then finds himself involved in a tournament of sorts with Westerners, including a pre-dead David Carradine in an embarrassment of a role. And Lord help me, that whiny-assed kid’s voice, dubbed or in the native tongue, grates on you like a Chinese water torture. Nevertheless, taken on their own, each half of this pieced-together tale would definitely have merit. The fighting on both halves is fantastic, with a lot of wire-fu in traditional Yuen Woo Ping style. But when you watch this thing as an entirety, it’s a Frankenstein’s monster of a film that, while telling several stages of the story of Su Can, who became a legendary fighter in China, either comes off as a one hour prologue to the second half or a 40-minute epilogue to the first half. Neither meshing very well with the other. Michelle Yeoh makes a cameo as a healer, as does Liu Chia Hui as a crazy bearded man who is the God of Wushu’s companion.
The disc has some behind the scenes docs and storyboards. The video looks fine and the audio is available in either English dubbed or Chinese with subtitles. Unfortunately, neither ends up being a very good presentation, as the English is dubbed in the traditionally bad method. And there’s so much action on screen that the subtitles can be hard to follow.
Rating: Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars