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February 27, 2005

Fist of Legend (1994)

IMDB: Fist of Legend (1994)

Fist of Legend, or Jing wu ying xiong, is a remake of Bruce Lee's Chinese Connection, based on a true story of the killing of Master Huo by the Japanese during their occupation of China in 1934.

This time around, Jet Li portrays the school's top student, Chen Zhen, who returns to his school to revenge his master, only to discover that the death was hastened by poison. Thus begins a beautiful looking high-action martial arts movie with an intriguing story.

For the martial arts fans out there who remember, and loved, the Bruce Lee movies, but had to overlook the low production values of many of the Golden Harvest pictures, you will be stunned by the look of Fist of Legend.

The Limited Edition Collection print that I watched had pristine cinematography. While most all scenes are small group or arena type shots, and the costuming was nowhere near the extravagance of say, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, this film just plain looked good.

Ok, enough technical praise Tooms, how 'bout the fighting? Well, you won't be disappointed. The film wastes no time in starting with a great fight scene between Chen Zhen and some bully boys, not only easily defeating them, but embarrasingly so. Jet Li is, as always, very proficient in all of the fight scenes while always maintaining his signature stoic facial expression.

Matrix fans may note an uncanny similarity between the fight between Morpheus and Neo and the one between Chen Zhen (Li) and Hou Ting-An (Siu-Hou Chin) considering they were both choreographed by the same person - Woo-ping Yuen aka Yuen Wo Ping, choreographer and action director for Kill Bill Vols. I & II as well as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Review: 7

Posted by mark at 10:36 AM

February 13, 2005

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

IMDB: Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Plot Outline: A hardened trainer/manager works with a determined woman in her attempt to establish herself as a boxer.

A remarkable story of self-proclaimed "White Trash" Margaret Fitzgerald (Hillary Swank) who has a dream to become a world champion boxer, persists in asking trainer Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) to take her on.

Dunn eventually gives in, with some coaxing from friend, and former boxer, Eddie Scrap-Iron Dupris (Morgan Freeman) who sees the potential in Maggie's talent.

What starts as a sports achievement success story, suddenly changes two thirds of the way through the movie to a different story entirely, but you'll have to watch it to discover for yourself what I found to be a fantastic picture.

I can't encourage you enough to go and see this. Eastwood and company have once again produced a remarkable life story of dreams of sucess and desire, old mentors and youth, life's constant challenges all in the framework of 'real world' situations.

For those who've only seen the trailers, let me at least tell you that this is *not* a remake of Rocky with Hillary Swank playing Sly Stallone's character. It is instead a multi-faceted tale that reminded me more of the textures of The Shawhank Redemption (perhaps because of the narration by Morgan Freeman) and was chock full of vignettes of humor, angst, tragedy, and triumph.

Go see it!

Rating: 8

Posted by mark at 09:37 PM