fast and loose with the tale of Shaolin Temple's destruction at
the hands of the Chinese Government, Wong Jing's 1994 film is as
demented and ultimately disappointing as you'd expect.
Incorporating his tired fart gags and slapstick routines, Wong Jing
undermines a very good Jet Lee performance with his usual brand
of convoluted plotting, and slipshod direction.
As mentioned, one of the productions few positive attributes is
the performance of Jet Lee, as the stern Hung Hei-Kwun.
Father of Man Ting (played by My Father Is A Hero's Xie Miao), Jet
is able to take up the challenge of portraying a somewhat humourless
and, at first heartless, character. Whilst
it's no Oscar winning performance - thanks to Jing's poor script
and insistence on including unfunny comedy routines - it does add
some texture to the film.
the (mostly) impressive fight sequences is Jet's choreographer of
choice Yuen Kwai. Yuen manages to design some superb action scenes,
many of which involve Jet utilising an extendible spear, and they
are by far the productions' highlights. Some dodgy wirework does
find its way into a few scenes, but by and large the action adheres
to the laws of gravity, and is all the better for it.
So far this doesn't sound too bad, but it's the aspects Wong weaves
into proceedings with all the finesse of a one-legged horse which
soon irritated and bored this viewer.
The appearance of the tinfoil car in which the lead villain arrives,
the child monks who think nothing of "hilariously" beating up a
corpse, the ubiquitous toilet humour, the toupee-wearing, waxwork-modelling
senior monk and so many other utterly pointless additions.
Watching a Wong Jing production is fast becoming the equivalent
of seeing your Dad attempting to dance at a party...the first few
times it's mildly amusing, but the joke soon wears thin and you're
soon looking for the nearest exit.
New Legend Of Shaolin is not big, or funny, and it's most definitely
NOT what I'd call entertainment.
From the first to the last frame, the print exhibits a large amount
of grain, which at times can become distracting. Whilst colours
are good, the transfer's detail levels are rarely anything more
Mild artifacting can be seen in many of the film's night-time scenes,
thanks to the slightly-too-bright nature of the transfer.
A very basic, serviceable picture which does little to enhance Universe's
generally high-standard track record.
Aside from the fact that much of the film's musical score is directly
lifted from the far superior Tai Chi Master, the 5.1 soundtrack
I had difficulty noticing any real surround speaker usage, with
most of the soundtrack emanating from the centre speaker. Some shrillness
can be heard on occasions, but it rarely becomes distracting.
Spelling and grammar-wise, this is a reasonable job by Universe.
Most disappointing however, is the simplification that is apparent
in a number of scenes, and the lack of subtitles for Chinese symbols.
Other than that, the subs convey what little plot there is well,
and although this doesn't make the comedy any funnier, it at least
makes it understandable.
Aside from the entertaining trailers for Fong Sai-Yuk, Tai Chi Master
and High Risk, and the interesting biography/filmography for Jet
Lee and Deannie Yip, there is little to come back to in this feature
Well what can I say?
A typical Wong Jing movie is thankfully given the respect it deserves
by Universe - very little.
For die-hard fans of Jet Lee only, this is New Legend grows old