A martial arts student returns home to Shanghai to
avenge his murdered master in Japanese-occupied China.
Fist of Legend (1994)
Directed by Gordon Chan
Written by Gordon Chan and Kwong Kim Yip
Starring Jet Li, Shinobu Nakayama, Siu-Ho Chin,
Billy Chow, Yasuaki Kurata, Paul Chun
Remake of 1972's The Chinese Connection
Believe it or not, Fist of Legend was my long overdue introduction to the films of Jet Li, a talented martial artist who I've never given a fair chance due to my preference to Jackie Chan. While he isn't a great actor, he is one hell of a fighter and some of the fight scenes in this film are amazingly choreographed. However, the film itself is quite weak due to poorly developed characters and a definite lack of focus. Like most martial arts films, the focus is on the fight and not on the movie.
Fist of Legend tells a fictionalized account of the student of legendary Chinese martial artist Huo Yuanjia. Jet Li plays the student, Chen Zhen, as he travels home to China in 1937 to save his school from the occupying Japanese forces. The timelines don't quite add up to what really happened, but that doesn't affect the movie all that much. The fight scenes start out blatantly fake and choppily edited, but as the film progresses, the fights get more realistic and exciting. The final fight between Chen Zhen and Japanese General Fujita is one of the most intense fight scenes put to film.
If this film had paid a little more attention to creating a movie instead of just a bunch of fight scenes edited together, Fist of Legend could've been more memorable and would've catapulted Jet Li to early worldwide success. It's not a bad film in the slightest. It's just not trying hard enough to be a good one.