The Legend of Fong Sai-Yuk II
1993, R, 95 min. Directed by Corey Yuen. Starring Jet Li, Josephine Hsiao, Michelle Reis, Adam Cheng.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Feb. 11, 1994
This is a sequel that is occasionally superior to the original. Jet Li returns as Chinese folk hero Fong Sai-Yuk, the well-shorn acolyte of the mother of iron. This time out, Fong is sent by the head of the Red Flower Society to snatch a secret document from the governor. When he fails, the society's godfather allows him a second chance: he must enter a martial arts competition in order to secure the hand of the governor's daughter and thus woo his way to the coveted document. This is a blow to Fong's fiancée, natch, who is nonplused to find that her betrothed is (she believes) hot for another. Back again is Josephine Hsiao, who, as Fong's master-of-martial-arts mother, provides a good deal of comic relief without going overboard too often. Unlike the first film, Legend II has a plot you can actually follow without getting migraines every 15 minutes and subtitles that, more or less, make sense. Director Kwai keeps the action swift (but then, has there been a Hong Kong film of late where the action wasn't rushing along like a runaway train?), peppering it with various complex stunts and set pieces (the final battle for the mother's life atop a pyramid of ladders and tables is a marvel of barely visible wiring). It also looks at though he's been watching a few Western films in his spare time: black-and-white flashbacks to the earlier film pop up from time to time, and Kwai's sureness with the camera has resulted in a more fluid look and feel to this sequel. In all, it's not a bad introduction to Hong Kong period cinema for those who may not be sure what they're getting into.