Remember to click G+1 if you like a post... It will make me happy :-)

25 June 2011

Once Upon a Time in China (1991)

Do you remember when dubbing was considered to be a good thing? I know it has provided some great humour over the years, but really, does it add anything positive to the viewing experience? I was surprised to discover that the version of the Once Upon A Time in China I sat down to watch last night was dubbed. And it wasn't good dubbing. No! This was bad dubbing with dodgy American accents aplenty. I almost switched it off right there and then. In the end I switched the audio so that I was watching it with what I think was dubbed Cantonese complete with English subtitles. It wasn't great, but it felt like the best compromise at the time.

Kung Fu on the Beach in Once Upon a Time in China, Paragon Films 1991
Kung Fu on the Beach in Once Upon a Time in China, Paragon Films 1991

As you may have noticed, I'm having a bit of an Asian film renaissance at the moment, so expect a little flurry of reviews on this subject over the coming posts. Some I'm excited about. Others, like 'Big Tits Zombie', I'm kind of not. But unless I find something else that tickles my fancy in the meantime, you're going to hear my views on each and every one of them... whether I like it or not!

Back to Once Upon a Time in China...

Jet Li is shocked that Iron Vest would cheat in Once Upon a Time in China, Paragon Films 1991
Jet Li is shocked that Iron Vest Yim would cheat
in Once Upon a Time in China, Paragon Films 1991

This film is 20 years old. It stars Jet Li when he was in his prime and it tackles that popular Asian topic of Western invasion. Jet plays Wong Fei-hung, a famous and historically influential Chinese Martial Artist cum Doctor who finds himself caught up in a relentless and seemingly unstoppable tide of change - none of which seems like a good thing at the time.

Leung Foon (Yuen Biao) escapes from the Shaho Gang in Once Upon a Time in China, Paragon Films 1991
Leung Foon (Yuen Biao) escapes from the Shaho Gang
in Once Upon a Time in China, Paragon Films 1991

We are transported back to the late 1800s, a time where guns are a new thing and rival gangs are terrorizing the locals and beating the Hell out of each other. So expect some fighting! And there's wire-work. And there's humour. In fact, here we have most of the ingredients for a cracking tale. But...

Well, 20 years is a long time in film making. It did have a big impact in 1991 and helped to pave the way for a lot of what has come since, but watching it now, it does feel dated. The cast are mainly great. The story is great. The fight scenes are quite literally up there. You're not going to go home disappointed, but equally, it might not have you shouting "Hi-Yah" and high-kicking your way round the house either.

Iron Vest Yim (Yen Shi-kwan) makes a name for himself in Once Upon a Time in China, Paragon Films 1991
Iron Vest Yim (Yen Shi-kwan) makes a name for himself
in Once Upon a Time in China, Paragon Films 1991

I'm a sucker for the great-sounding techniques that the Kung-Fu Masters have made their own. Here we have the 'Shadowless Kick' and 'Iron Vest'. Some of the fighting has simply outstanding choreography. My only complaint might be that there is maybe too much of it. I know it sounds odd, but I found myself taking some of the amazing stuff that these guys were doing for granted. The film weighs in at almost 2 hours. That's a long time to be holding your breath! That said: Dedicated Kung Fu fight fans will be in their element.

Nobody move or the gwai lo gets it!

So, you want to be a Kung Fu Master? Well Kung Fu costs and this is where you start paying. On the Triple-B I'm going to show you all 5 Fingers of Death. Watch this film at least once... or die!

No comments:

Post a Comment