Title: “The New Legend of Shaolin” “Legend of the Red Dragon”
Director: Jing Wong; Corey Yuen
Writer: Jing Wong
Cast: Jet Li; Chingmy Yau; Mo Tse; Deannie Yip; Ju Chunhua
Duration: 95 minutes
Country: Hong Kong
The New Legend of Shaolin is a Hong Kong martial arts movie from 1994 and I have just one thing to say it about it. IT. IS. AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That’s it the movie is awesome. The review is over go watch it if you haven’t seen it and don’t read on the internet what some asshole thinks about it, don’t watch it on YouTube either just go watch the movie and if you like martial arts movies you really won’t regret it… no, seriously if you haven’t seen this movie I recommend you watch it before reading the review.
Let’s start with a short plot summary “The movie revolves around Hung Hei-Kwun, who arrives in his village after a raid by government soldiers from the Qing dynasty, only to find his whole village destroyed. Hung Hei-Kwun quickly finds his infant son and gives him a choice between death and joining him in the rebellion…”
Also before getting to the spoilers part of the review I have to point out that this movie is LOOSELY based on the life of real Shaolin monk Hung Hei-gun. And now…
Let’s begin with the story well you have the beginning of the story has more or less been more or less explained in the short plot summary I made in the non spoiler part of the review. But the story is more or less that, father and son kicking Qing Dynasty soldier’s asses as they go after them and their allies
The main plot revolves about a map tattooed in the backs of five Shaolin apprentices, it’s a treasure map that leads to a Ming Dynasty treasure (the ming dynasty was the dynasty that ruled china before the Qing dynasty) and how the government cracks down on Shaolin monks after learning of the map and that they are aiding rebels and thus the five children also end up under Hung Hei-Kwun’s protection. It’s kind of normal plot but the humor they add and the martial art scenes make it so that you can’t really take your eyes off the screen
Of course like it couldn’t be any other way there’s romance in this movie when a woman who is trying to swindle a rich man meets Hung Hei-Kwun, who has been hired by the rich man to protect his son, one of the five children on whom the map has been tattooed. I must say that most of the chemistry they have on-screen is when they are fighting which is a lot, the woman, Red Bean, is also a pretty badass fighter. You kind of can see that they like each other but they mostly fight until he sees her barely naked and I think pulls the poison out of her body and she has him take responsibility. It is not the best love story and there were times that I thought it was a little forced in the beginning but I didn’t mind it too much and after seeing some scenes of them together on the later half you are kind of happy that he gets to keep the girl
The plot where Red Bean and her mother try to swindle the rich guy is hilarious, they pretend that the mother who is a martial arts master is dead and Red Bean seduces the rich guy and accepts his marriage proposal. However whenever the man asks her for a kiss or tries to kiss her it is the mother who kisses him and there’s a particularly hilarious scene where the mother tries to drug the protagonist with an aphrodisiac, for some reason but the plan backfires and it is the her the one who ends affected by it. And let’s just say she finds someone who would put his dong in her… About this I might add that while the rich guy is typical rich guy/noble from these types of movies and he is kind of an asshole he is funny or at least he made me laugh and even pity him at times.
Also the main bad guy of course is someone who has a story with the protagonist and the one responsible for the destruction of their village who is after the protagonist for revenge and he looks a little like Freddy Kruegger, they both were burnt pretty badly, he likes to poison his victims and use them as ventriloquism puppets. He is kind of awesome like that. Besides that it is deeply satisfying when he finally kicks the bucket but I like that he is kind of tough opponent
Now for the martial arts, the martial arts what you would expect in a jet li movie, awesome. He uses a weapon in this one a lance and the ability with which he does is kind of amazing. There is also a father-son combo fight against the main villains and it is really good to see them fight as a team, the kid is also pretty skilled in martial arts against the villain, the scene was definitely well choreographed. There are many of those amazing movements they usually have in martial arts movies when it seems the characters kind of fly and I have to say that you may sometimes notice the cables they use but since most of the scenes are really good you don’t really pay attention to them.
For the characters Jet Li’s characters comes off as a bit of a stoic character and even though he does develop, especially when he warms up to his love interest and eventually his son, and I like him, I can’t say I like him all that much. The main love interest, well what we can say about her is that she is a thief trying to swindle the rich guy who has a pretty face and kicks ass later falling in love with the main character and marrying him, like the main character. The villain like I said is awesome in his action scenes and tough to beat but his motivations are the same as many other movie villains, greed at first and later revenge. The Kids well, the five Shaolin kids can get a little annoying throughout the movie but not too much and their personalities, well they are kids and they behave like kids so they are not really that unlikable, and the rich man’s son bratty attitude ends pretty quickly after he gets beaten up a couple of times by the protagonist’s son, also the majority of them know more or less how to defend themselves and that’s kind of cool. The protagonist’s son has the same personality as his father and thus I have more or less the same opinion of him that I do of his dad, he is not annoying at any point in the movie and for that I’m thankful. Red Bean’s mother and the Rich Guy are more or less the comic relief of the movie and I like them just fine, they do that job well and also you kind of get attached to the mother with the consequences that usually carries in these types of films. Summarizing, they were likeable and sometimes funny but they were kind of plain and not all that interesting for me.
So yeah the characters are probably the weakest part of this film. The direction and the work of everyone in the crew is really good, the sets are well done, the camera work is not bad (not that I noticed at least), most of the scenes serve the story in one way or another and the fight scenes look really good as I mentioned earlier.
And that was my review of The New Legend of Shaolin and, like I said before, it is an awesome movie but not a five stars movie. What I said about the character, which is not due to the acting, but the characters which are not really that likable, they are likable but not very, very likable, like I said they were kind of plain not all that interesting. But the movie is decently made, is entertaining ( a really good even awesome watch in fact if you like these types of movies like I do), you can root for the good guy to defeat the bad guy and despite what I said about the characters except for the villains who were supposed to be unlikable the rest of the characters aren’t.
For these reasons I give The New Legend of Shaolin Four out Five Stars. And now since I couldn’t find the many images I would have wanted to show you I’ll show you the trailer.