The New Legend of Shaolin
AKA: The Legend of the Red Dragon
Director: Wong Jing
Action Director: Corey Yuen
Stars: Jet Li, Tze Miu, Chingmy Yau, Deannie Yip, Ng Man-Tat
After appearing as folk heroes Wong Fei-Hung and Fong Sai Yuk, Jet Li plays Hung Shi-Kwan in this manic Wong Jing/Corey Yuen collaboration. The plot here is fairly simple; Jet and his son Tze Miu are left homeless after a group of ninjas attacks them. They eventually hook up as bodyguards for wily businessman Ng Man-Tat, who seems to need more protection from himself than anyone else, since he is constantly getting duped by mother/daughter con artists Deannie Yip and Chingmy Yau. They settle into a strange home life, with Tze becoming the teacher of a group of little Shaolin monks who live at Ng's house. The same ninjas that attacked Jet at the beginning return for revenge, and to take a map tattooed on the backs of the monks.
Normally, Wong Jing's movies are a bit haphazard to say the least. He has no interest in directing action sequences, and so usually just hands the movie completely over to his action director. This can result in movies that seem like two films mashed together, and The New Legend of Shaolin is a prime example of this. The expository scenes are pure Wong Jing all the way, with tons of toilet humor and double entendres. If you usually don't like Wong's brand of shtick, most likely you'll be holding your head and groaning during most of the middle portion of the movie, which concentrates more on comedy than fighting. For the record, I found most of the jokes pretty funny, especially when delivered by the wonderfully expressive Ng Man-Tat...but it does get to be a bit much at times.
However, for how much this film magnifies Wong Jing's shortcomings in the expository scenes, it does probably double that in the opposite direction for Corey Yuen's action work. The fight sequences in here (which begin about two minutes into the movie) are outstanding. They're very heavy with wire work and ninja tricks (and also strange metal objects, including a car-like thing), but Jet also does some great stuff with spears, so fans of both kung fu and wire fu will be satisfied with the action bits in this movie. Of course, since this is ultimately a Wong Jing movie, some of the action "gags" are stolen from other movies, including Lone Wolf and Cub and Dreadnaught.
If you have a high tolerance for or just really like toilet humor and want to see some great Jet Li action, this movie comes highly recommended.
A review of the DVD for this movie can be found here
Back to Movie Review index
This DVD is available for purchase at www.hkflix.com