Once upon a Time in China

Once upon a Time in China

4.0 2
Director: Tsui Hark

Cast: Jet Li, Yuen Biao, Jacky Cheung

     
 

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Though generally unknown to Western audiences, Tsui Hark is considered a giant among Asian filmmakers and this exceptional epic, combining hard-hitting martial-arts action with romance, comedy, history, genuine poignance, and sharp insight into the effects of the century-long encroachment of Western civilization in Asia more than amply demonstrates why. The story

Overview

Though generally unknown to Western audiences, Tsui Hark is considered a giant among Asian filmmakers and this exceptional epic, combining hard-hitting martial-arts action with romance, comedy, history, genuine poignance, and sharp insight into the effects of the century-long encroachment of Western civilization in Asia more than amply demonstrates why. The story centers on the exploits of Master Wong Fei-hung (a familiar figure in Hong Kong cinema) a 19th-century doctor, Confucian, and exceptional martial artist. As the film begins, he has just opened a new clinic in Canton Province. To help him with patients, he hires a few apprentices including Porky Lang (the comic relief) and Buck Teeth Sol, who was raised outside China and barely can speak the language. Wong is platonically involved with the lovely, worldly Aunt Yee, who has been abroad most of her life. Wong soon gets in trouble when he begins using his skills to protect and assist the poor and helpless in his community. As a result, someone torches his clinic, forcing Wong and his compadres to set off and get spectacularly staged revenge. They also try vainly to stop Western culture from changing traditional Chinese ways, but they soon find that they may as well be shoveling sand against a rising tide.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Adam Bregman
A classic in the martial arts genre, Tsui Hark's Once Upon a Time in China, which has inspired three sequels, is a flashy, spirited film featuring Jet Li in one of his best roles. This period piece set in the 19th century deals with Western customs and modern weaponry and their effect on Chinese culture. It's too bad that this idea couldn't have been taken more seriously, rather than making all the Westerners into comic book bad guys. The plot and politics about Westerners ruining China really don't work, and the humor, like so many movies in this genre, is over-the-top hokey and made worse by dubbed voices that all sound American. What you're left with are spectacular, artful fight scenes, and these make up for the clunky script and goofball comedy. Li is a marvel, defeating hundreds of enemies with his small frame and quick, perfect movements. The final battle aboard a clipper ship is the movie's finest. This could have been an even better film if it took its subject matter and story seriously, but Once Upon a Time in China does succeed in being completely entertaining.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/29/2001
UPC:
0043396056596
Original Release:
1991
Rating:
R
Source:
Sony Pictures

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jet Li Wong Fei-hung
Yuen Biao Leung Foon
Jacky Cheung Buck Teeth Sol
Rosamund Kwan Aunt Yee
Kent Cheng Porky Lang
Simon Yam Actor
Jimmy Wang Yu Slave from America
Jacky Biao Actor
Qiu Jian Guo Actor
Chi Wong Yeung Actor

Technical Credits
Tsui Hark Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Mak Chi-Sin Editor
Raymond Chow Producer
David Chung Cinematographer
Yee Chung-man Art Director
Romeo Diaz Score Composer
James Wong Score Composer
Yu Ka-on Costumes/Costume Designer
Yuen Kai-chi Screenwriter
Lam Kwok-Wah Cinematographer
Lau Man-hung Production Designer
Tang Pik-yin Screenwriter
Chan Pui-kai Cinematographer
Chan Tung-Chuen Cinematographer
Bill Wong Cinematographer
Arthur Wong Cinematographer
Leung Yiu-ming Screenwriter

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Once upon a Time in China 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
was definitely in the mood for Jet Li, and thus I grabbed "Once Upon a Time in China." The movie is about Wong Fei-Hung (Jet Li) a Chinese martial arts expert who protects the Chinese people from the foreignors (British and Americans) invading his land. Fei-Hung starts a militia to help protect the people, and they wind up getting in trouble by fighting with a local mob group. Fei-Hung also runs afoul with the local Magistrate who is kowtowing to the foreignors. Fei-Hung later fights with another martial arts expert, Iron Vest Yim, who wants to start his own Martial Arts school. All the plots come to a climax on the American base, where the Americans shoot at the British and Chinese, while trying to steal Chinese women to bring back to America. Yes, the plot is a bit out there, but the martial arts scenes are outstanding. Especially the final fight scene between Fei-Hung and Iron Vest! There is alot of comedy intermixed in the storyline also. One of the funniest scenes, is where a Western camera is brought to Fei-Hungs house, and a picture is to be taken of him, another person and a bird. The camera goes off with a boom, and the bird inside the cage is turned to fried chicken! Pretty hilarious. The picture quality is not the greatest for a DVD, but still very watchable. How can you not love the martial arts scenes in this movie? There are some extras on the DVD: * There is a commentary from martial arts reviewer Ric Meyers. * 5 movie trailers, including one for "Once upon a time in china" * Talent files for Tsui Hark, Jet Li, and Rosamund Kwan. The files were a bit underwhelming, and they did not have a full bio for all of Jet Li's movies. The DVD also has 2 versions. The original Theatrical version and the English dubbed version. I watched the cantonese version, with English subtitles which was fine!
Katerina More than 1 year ago
Even though I thought I would not like this movie when it started, I patiently stuck through it and I was rewarded. It was a nice movie, good visuals, nice moves, a classic. The script was more complicated than I would expect for this type of movie, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.