Wing Chun
HONG KONG LEGENDS

 
Starring:
Directed By:
Yuen Woo-Ping
Year:
1994
Run Time:
91 mins
Producer: Hong Kong Legends
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Languages:
CANTONESE 5.1, English 5.1
Subtitles:
English, English SDH, Dutch
W/S Subtitles:
Yes
Ratio:
1.78:1 Anamorphic
Region:
PAL 2
Genre:
Wire-Fu / Wire-Work - 12 (UK)
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MOVIE
5/10

This may not win me many friends in the world of Hong Kong cinema, but I've always felt Yuen Woo-Ping was a distinctly average film director.
So often, his own films lack narrative structure and often appear the result of someone with hundreds of ideas, desperately trying to find a plot to accommodate them.
That is not to say that he's not struck gold in the past, but many of his post mid-eighties productions have rarely managed a successful combination of strong characterisation and plotting, allied to its action sequences.
Sadly, Wing Chun will not be making its way into any of my 'Best of...' lists, as it highlights all that is wrong with Woo-Ping's self-helmed work.

With a strong cast, featuring Michelle Yeoh, Donnie Yen and Tsui Siu-Keung, plus the story of Wing Chun's founder at its core, Woo-Ping could have created a thing of wonder.
Instead, with the exclusion of any real Wing Chun, and the inclusion of tiresome comedy routines, an irritating Waise Lee, and some shoddy wire-work, what remains is a film lacking in much to recommend it.

The plot surrounds Wing Chun (Yeoh) and her sister Fong (Catherine Hung Yan) and the new addition to their Tofu restaurant in the form of a recently widowed girl.
The pretty girl is certainly a hit with the town's male population, increasing business, and also the interest of the local gang's slimy second in command.
Much of the plot is just an excuse for protracted bouts of fisticuffs, although even these become tedious at times as we're treated to much that we've seen before - If I have to sit through yet another villain being struck by the blunt edge of a broadsword, only to be "hilariously" told that "it's ok, it's the wrong side", I'll scream!

Much like certain sections of Iron Monkey, the undercranking used is insanely over the top, rendering any intricate choreography a blur of limbs, and therefore taking the viewer completely out of the action.

In my opinion, Woo-Ping's greatest strength has always been his incredible breadth of knowledge of Martial Arts, (both Chinese and non-Chinese), and the way he implements these styles into his action scenes.
Sadly, his recurrent over-use of unsubtle, and just plain hokey, wire-work, and the absence of anything looking like Wing Chun (save for the odd pose), come as a huge disappointment.

The radiant charm of Michelle Yeoh, who also does her best with the character - lending it a gravitas not found in any of the other parts - plus a few pieces of nice action choreography, amount to very little when taking the film as a whole.
For those looking for an entertaining, action-packed Wing Chun movie, buy the Prodigal Son immediately.
For those after a limp film, with a beautiful leading lady, and very little else, you've just hit the jackpot...

PICTURE
8/10

Considering the age of the film (made in 1994), I expected a good transfer, and that's exactly what I got.
Whilst detail was almost always of a high standard, black levels weren't quite so convincing.

Colour reproduction was impressive throughout, showing off some of the more elaborate costumes to great effect, and there is little wrong technically with this Hong Kong Legend's transfer.
The age, and to a large degree the storage condition of the print, play a large part in the quality of the transfer. In this case, HKL do the very best they can with the material at hand, and produce a pleasing rather than stunning image.

SOUND
7/10

A very much centre-focused 5.1 soundtrack is issued by HKL, and whilst lacking any obvious directional effects, reproduces the film's dialogue and score with the minimum of fuss.

SUBTITLES
8/10

Nothing very much to complain about here - which makes a change considering the Jekyll and Hyde nature of much of HKL's recent subtitling.
As always, grammatical and spelling errors are absent, while the quality of the translation is mostly very good.

EXTRAS
5/10

An ok set of extras - the ubiquitous Bey Logan commentary, 15-odd minute interviews with Tsui-Siu Keung and Donnie Yen, and a selection of trailers.

Aside from the welcome interview with Tsui-Siu Keung, much of the other material is tiresome.

CONCLUSION
7/10

From what I'd heard, and read, about this Yuen Woo-Ping production before I viewed it, I was expecting something unforgettable.
I certainly won't forget Wing Chun in a hurry, but sadly, for all the wrong reasons.

A good DVD of an extremely dissatisfying film, does not an essential purchase make...

MOVIE 5/10
PICTURE
8/10
SOUND
7/10
SUBTITLES
8/10
EXTRAS
5/10
MENUS
8/10
PACKAGING
7/10
OVERALL 6/10