Action Movie Fanatix Review: True Legend

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Starring: Vincent Zhao, Zhou Xun, Andy On, Guo Xiaodong, Feng Xiaogang, Jay Chou, Michelle Yeoh, Yan Ni, David Carradine, Cung Le, Conan Stevens, Sylvester Terkay, Matt “Horshu” Wiese, John Heidenreich

Director: Yuen Woo Ping

2010  |  115 Minutes  |  Rated R

“Your blood will be an offering to my father.” – Su

The cover of True Legend led me to believe this would be some zany grindhouse type kung fu movie but I couldn’t have been any more wrong.  Certain aspects harken back to the days of 1970s kung fu with its deadly venoms, drunken masters and crazy awesome training sequences but True Legend manages to stay grounded.

Su (Vincent Zhao) retired from his life as a renowned Qing dynasty general in order to pursue his dream of a family and his own martial arts school.  However, Su’s peaceful life is shattered when his vengeful adopted brother, Yuan Lie (Andy On), kidnaps his son and leaves Su for dead.  Saved by his wife Ying (Xun Zhou) and the reclusive doctor Yu (Michelle Yeoh), Su resolves to perfect his technique so that he may defeat Yuan and reunite his family.

Even though the story is silly, it is really, really well done.  The actors completely play the craziness straight.  A dude having gold armor sewn onto his skin and letting snakes, scorpions and spiders bite his hands to give his punches venom is only believable if everyone involved acts like he is a badass dude.

The wirework is over the top but just the right amount to not annoy me.  I was actually really impressed with how thy pulled this off because I am generally not a fan of over the top wirework.  Had the wirework been any more I likely would have hated it, any less and it wouldn’t have done the fantastically over the top martial arts any justice.

The martial arts are very good.  Not Ip Man good but still dang innovative and entertaining.  In watching True Legend I definitely saw a good many things I had never seen before.  The great thing is it isn’t just hand to hand combat but also a really wide variety of different weapons.

The main complaint I have, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, is the last 25 minutes.  All of a sudden we jump forward into the future just enough so that Young Feng hasn’t gotten any older looking but that Su has had enough time to become a raging alcoholic (minus the rage).  This is where we are introduced to the drunken boxing style of Wushu as well as David Carradine’s character and a group of western wrestlers that get their asses drunken kicked before the movie comes to an abrupt ending with text telling us that this was the birth of the drunken boxing style.  It just felt really tacked on.

The production is right up there with the best of the genre.  The scenery and costumes are absolutely beautiful.  The CGI could have been slightly better but it was mostly used in dream type sequences so one could make the argument that it didn’t need 100% realism.

True Legend was awesome.  I had so much fun watching it.  It was just the right blend of crazy 70s kung fu ideas and modern state of the art kung fu choreography.  Top that off with a solid story and a really strong effort put in by the entire cast and you have a can’t miss kung fu movie for any action fan.

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