Thursday, 30 October 2014

Kung Fu Jungle (一个人的武林) Movie Review

I watched the movie preview of Kung Fu Jungle (一个人的武林) yesterday, courtesy of migme. It's a highly anticipated movie because director Teddy Chan made it as a tribute to Hong Kong action cinema. While I couldn't identify all the cameos (I think I watch more HK dramas than action movies), I did recognise a few famous action stars like Tony Leung and Jackie Chan who appeared in the funniest places - the latter in a TV programme within the movie.

Movie Synopsis
A vicious killer Feng (Wang Bao-qiang) is going round Hong Kong killing top martial arts exponents, leaving a secret weapon called the Moonshadow as his calling card. When convicted killer and kung fu expert, Xia (Donnie Yen), hears of this, he offers to help the police catch the killer, in return for his freedom. 
Despite their misgivings, the police release the former police martial arts instructor into their custody. With his help, they realize from the chronological order of the victims that the killer is targeting his victims, all the top masters in their martial arts style, following a martial code of training. 
When Xia also disappears after a close encounter with Feng, they suspect the worse: that the two are accomplices and Feng was the bait to help spring Xia from jail. But Xia has actually gone back to his home in Foshan to find out more about the mysterious calling card. While doing so, he discovers the killer's identity and his motivation: the true philosophy behind martial arts was to kill opponents who were weaker than him. 
Steadfastly, Xia refuses to be drawn into a fight with Feng - until the killer threatens the women he loves most. Only then does he realize that he would have to go against the martial code in order to uphold it.
Directed by: Teddy Chan 
Starring: Donnie Yen, Bing Bai, Wang Baoqiang, Charlie Young, David Chiang

There's no doubt that Donnie Yen shone as the star of the movie with his exciting fight sequences, including one where he had to fight off seventeen prison inmates. The 51 year-old veteran actor was in remarkable form, and the fighting scenes were excellently choreographed. Although I had to tear my eyes away from the screen a few times when things got slightly rough, the realism of the sequences is commendable.

While the strong martial arts focus of this movie will definitely appeal to fans of action/martial arts, the plot was believable but slightly weak. The movie started out strongly, with a plot reminscent of an Agatha Christie novel. Later on, when the motive for the strange murders were revealed, I felt slightly disappointed. I was constantly wondering why Yen's nemesis, played by actor Wang Baoqiang, was so bloodcrazed. His onscreen wife's death certainly left him a little loopy, but it was an unconvincing reason for him to commit a string of murders just to become the top dog in the martial arts world.

The final showdown between Yen and Wang left everyone sitting at the edges of their seats. It was tense and gripping, not just because of the busy road on which the two fought, but also because it hinted at the clash of two ideals. Yen, at the behest of his lover, fought with restraint - to wound and not to kill. Wang, on the other hand, espoused the philosophy that the purpose of practicing martial arts is to kill others and claim his place as no. 1. The outcome of this struggle is surprisingly meaningful, though a little predictable.

As a tribute to Hong Kong action cinema, Kung Fu Jungle succeeded tremendously. It is a must-watch for action/martial arts fans, but those who prefer movies of a different genre might want to give it a miss.

Movie Rating: 3.5/5

Rachel loves sharing about the beautiful things in life from different perspectives. She writes on beauty and lifestyle in Cherchez Beauté , and does more abstract stuff on Antelune . When she's not writing, she's playing with her dog Holly, doodling and reading fiction. You can follow her on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram .