An action-packed remake of the Bruce Lee chopsocky classic The Chinese Connection, Fist of Legend
stars Hong Kong's current king of martial arts superstars, Jet Lee (Once Upon A Time In China, Fong Sai Yuk)
, as the famous Chinese folk hero Chen Zhen. Set in 1940s Shanghai, the Jet must solve the mystery behind his master's death, while fighting the tyranny of local Japanese prejudice against the Chinese. But when Li enters into an interracial romance with a pretty Japanese student, he finds himself caught in the middle, with both sides against him. For all the non-stop brawling and affectionate tributes to “the little dragon,” Fist of Legend
is a considerably quieter picture, and Li's silent, stoic performance is quite a contrast to Lee's manic powerhouse. Writer/Director Gordon Chan (King of Beggars)
ups the dramatic ante as well, and lightly (perhaps too lightly) touches on the mutual racism between the Chinese and Japanese. Unfortunately, despite some very effective scenes and resonant historical references, these fascinating points are never fully developed, and the story's political overtones have been all but discarded by the finale. Although this is disappointing, there are more than enough good scenes (both action and otherwise) to keep this enterprise afloat and entertaining. Punctuated by lots of kung fu fighting directed and choreographed by chopsocky vet Yuen Woo Ping (Drunken Master, Wing Chun)
, this melodramatic action film delivers the goods.