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Legend Of The Fist: The Return Of Chen Zhen (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner03/12/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 102 mins

Entertaining martial arts adventure with strong performances and a handful of superb fight sequences but the film struggles to top its brilliant opening and is let down by some unnecessarily graphic torture scenes.

What's it all about?
Directed by Andrew Lau (Infernal Affairs), Legend of the Fist: The Return on Chen Zhen opens with a seemingly typical war movie sequence, in which a group of pinned-down soldiers are suddenly rescued when one of their number (Donnie Yen as Chen Zhen) explodes into action and single-handedly takes out an entire squad of snipers in a flurry of kicks and punches. Seven years later, Chen Zhen reappears in Japanese occupied Shanghai, posing as a wealthy entrepreneur and befriending a local Mafia boss (Anthony Wong) in order to expose a sinister alliance between the Mafia and the occupying forces.

At the same time, Chen Zhen takes a more direct approach by donning costumed superhero garb (clearly modelled on The Green Hornet) and fighting both factions on the streets at night. He also grows close to sexy nightclub singer Kiki (Shu Qi), but can she be trusted?

The Good
The opening sequence on the bombed-out battlefield is breathtakingly exciting, making you instantly wish there were more World War I era martial arts movies. Unfortunately, though there are a number of other decent fight scenes, none of them come close to the thrills provided by the opening salvo.

Donnie Yen is superb as Chen Zhen and there's strong support from Shu Qi and Anthony Wong as Liu Yutian. There are also several nice touches, such as a series of obvious and not-so-obvious lifts from Casablanca (the nightclub is called Casablanca's and several early scenes feature subtle references to specific moments in the Bogart classic) and the use of the Green Hornet costume.

The Bad
That said, there are long stretches between fight sequences and the plot drags significantly in the middle section, becoming overly complicated (there's a whole revenge sub-plot that eventually takes over) when all it really needs to do is let Chen Zhen loose and sit back. Similarly, there are some shockingly graphic torture sequences which seem out of place in what is essentially a wartime beat-em-up adventure.

Worth seeing?
This is an entertaining martial arts flick with some nice ideas and a strong performance by Donnie Yen. Worth seeing if you like this sort of thing.

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Content updated: 24/10/2017 10:33

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