Quick recap: It’s about Imperialism! FINALLY. That’s been my go to response for classic literature since high school and now finally, I’m right. Also, there’s a bunch of fighting.
Fun (?) fact: Jet-Li’s voice had to be dubbed over because he speaks Mandarin, not Cantonese.
My thoughts: My experience with Martial arts consists of a solitary Tae Kwon Do class I took back in college. I’ve never been athletically inclined and this class put that fact in the spotlight.One time, my partner wasn’t there so the teacher practiced with me. I had practiced outside of class and when I asked him if I was doing the move right, he shook his head sadly and walked away. Some might call that unprofessional but I’m afraid that if he encouraged me, I might’ve ended up accidentally killing someone while attempting a roundhouse kick. He was right to do it.
There’s definitely a plot in Once Upon a Time in China, but good luck trying to figure it all out. I watched with my husband, who knows these kinds of movies and I’m surprised he didn’t pack his things and move out because of all the times I kept asking who the bad guys were. From what I gather, there is the hero Wong Fei Hung, who is in several of these movies and I think he is the leader of a group of guys who fight for good. There’s a bad-ish gang as well as another bad guy who I don’t think is associated with anyone else. And then there are the British and Americans, who are taking the Chinese and selling them into slavery. Basically, everyone fights everyone at some point in the film and I think that’s all you really need to know to get by.
The fighting scenes were impressive, even though there were a lot of wires used. I don’t get the hatred some people have for special effects like this. These are the same people who go to museums and complain that they could’ve created the same kind of art and sold it for millions of dollars. Yeah, you could’ve buddy, but you didn’t. Any kind of fighting requires physical stamina that most people don’t have. They don’t just strap you to wires and leave you to fly around, looking flawless. I was also impressed with the humor used during the fight scenes. There was plenty of graphic violence to go around, but a lot of the fighting looked like the 3 Stooges.
Final review: 2/5. Enjoyable, but not really my thing. My opinion might change with more opportunities to watch this genre, though.
Up next: Rio Bravo or E.T