Rosamund Kwan

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Once Upon A Time In China Review


Essential
The West has Billy the Kid and the East has Wong Fei-hung... and if ever the twain shall meet I will lose all faith in humanity and moviemaking. [Check out Shanghai Noon. -Ed.] Wong Fei-hung, arguably the biggest folk hero in Chinese legend and cinema, has shown up in various movies and dime novels in China since the 1930s. In America, he's just begun to make a real dent... showing up via Jackie Chan in The Legend of Drunken Master and Jet Li in Once Upon a Time in China.

Master of just about any kung fu style out there and massive opponent of imperialism, the legendary Wong Fei is pretty much there whenever China needs him, and, when one of China's anti-imperialist generals goes off to resist the French Occupation of Vietnam, Wong Fei is set to train a local militia to ensure that the West doesn't overrun the country while the General is away. Wong, with the help of many a militiaman with a strange-translated nickname (like Porky or Buck Teeth), attempts to do so, but this being a movie, something had to go wrong. In this case, his militia men get involved in a street fight with a local mobster, Leung Fu (Biao Yuen), and just happen to fight their way into Wong Fei-hung's diplomatic dinner with the Americans.

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