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Review Rise of the Legend (2014)

genre: martial arts, action, drama

A new tale about folk hero Wong Fei-hung that takes things a little more serious than in previous classics like Once Upon a Time in China series and Drunken Master 1 and 2. And for the most part it actually is refreshing and very smooth. The martial arts scenes are enhanced with CGI in a good way. They are easily the best parts in the film. Sadly the plot elements completely detract from them. The main plot is far from interesting or compelling. And not that complicated. But the way it is told makes it unnecessary messy and confusing. It does add the needed drama here and there if only they would have avoided to drag these scenes. As a biography this fails big time. Because it only shows a brief fragment of the hero's life and his abilities. It is my suggestion to skip most of the plot based scenes and merely focus on the action. Because let me tell you the action is exciting and phenomenal. Eddie Ping as the main character Wong Fei-hung has been a revelation to me. He hasn't made a lot of movies yet. But despite him not having a martial arts background he was able to display some excellent skills. It's nice to see an actor to take his training and stunt work seriously. And I am happy to report that old martial artist / actor Sammo Hung still can pull of some moves. 

I know that hardcore martial arts fans or purists will have problems with the use of CGI and wire works. But as I said before I do think if these effects have to be used it would have to be like in Rise of the Legend. The action looks much more slicker and stylish but at the same time do show of the skills of the martial artists in all their glory. 

Don't get too hung up about the story and focus on the action and you will love this flick. 

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