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Review Zu Warriors a.k.a. The Legend of Zu a.k.a. Shu shan zheng zhuan (2001): Unfortunately hasn't aged well so this won't be for everyone!

genre: action, fantasy, martial arts







The Legend of Zu has been a favorite of mine for a long time. Mind you this was based on the two times I have watched it. Read what I originally wrote about it:

Zu Warriors of the Magic Mountain was and is an impressive classic! You never would have guessed it was made in 1983. Tsui Hark's use of special effects was very creative and inventive. (He continued doing in most of his later productions.) Even now it can measure up to other movies in this genre. "Legend of Zu" is connected to "Zu"warriors from magic mountain"! It is not necessary to have seen this movie to understand the plot of this one. The plot is a bit hard to follow. But to be honest it doesn't matter. It is all about the action and adventure! I always was wondering what Tsui Hark would do if he got his hands on CGI. Now we know, he made this movie. Maybe it sometimes is too much but the overall result is so beautiful that I am not going to be critical about that. There is so much happening on the screen, you simply won't believe. I think it is a big shame that this movie wasn't shown in theaters here in Holland. Because this movie is screaming for screen time in cinemas. This movie easily can beat big budget Hollywood productions like Superman Returns or X- Men 3 (putain merde, never ever watch this atrocious film. It's a downright insult to film fans and comic book lovers). The only thing I do have to mention is the lack of humour. In most of Tsui Harks's movies he combines drama, fantasy, martial arts and humour. Somehow it is missing in this movie. Again I am not going to be picky about these small matters. "Legend of Zu" delivers on the action front with the most beautiful special effects you will see. A true classic! 

When I got the chance to buy the Blu Ray DVD I did not hesitate a second and purchased it from www.dddhouse.com. This was based on sentiments alone. Now after having watched it I am almost completely shocked how badly it has aged. The once so impressive spectacle isn't that impressive anymore. Because of that I was able to focus on other elements a whole lot more and I have to admit that The Legend of Zu is not the classic I thought it was. However that does not mean it's a total fail. There are still some elements in the film that are incredibly creative and inventive visually. But the once gorgeous eye candy definitely has lost it's shine considerably. Could you fault a director for using a technology that is ever advancing? Well, judging from the few scenes I watched on Youtube I can already tell the original, Zu Warriors of the Magic Mountain, holds up better than Tsui Hark's second film in the franchise. (But I will get back to this once I have looked at the original more critically.)  If I have to guess it's because practical effects do look better than CGI effects. That and that other elements in the original are stronger. It's like Tsui Hark got completely caught up into the application of special effects and spectacle too much and very hastily designed the story and characterization around it as an after thought. Naturally this should have been reversed. But this could imply that at least the action is memorable. Which brings me to my main gripe with The Legend of Zu. There are only a few fight scenes that offer the action goodness I crave in these kinds of films. If you remove all the razzle and dazzle there is very little left to enjoy. The saving grace easily is the cast since they all do their best to take the confusing mess seriously. 

So is this still worth watching? If you haven't before and love Wuxia and Hong Kong films then definitely. But if you are not a big fan then I can't recommend it since it's not an easy film to get into.







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