The 101 Action Movies brings us another classic, as Jet Li takes center stage in this martial arts stunner.
A remake of the Bruce Lee classic, The Chinese Connection, Li is absolutely stunning in the title role of Chen Zhen, a Chinese student studying in Japan during the Japanese occupation of China.
Receiving word that his master has been killed in a challenge, Chen leaves Japan and his sweetie, Mitsuko (Shinobu Nakayama) a lovely Japanese student.
Returning to his native China he finds his training dojo in the Jingwu School is in an uproar, and they are delighted to have Chen back. Learning that it was the Japanese that killed his master in the challenge, Chen refuses to believe that he was beaten fairly, and discovers that he was in fact poisoned by one of their own dojo members.
He vows revenge and begins to take down his enemies one by one until he is left with a final brutal confrontation with a giant of a Japanese general (Billy Chow).
The film’s fight choreography once again comes under the control of Yuen Woo-Ping, that combined with Jet Li’s unbelievable speed makes for some jaw-dropping, fluid, and violent encounters. It’s amazing to watch, and half the time I was simply shaking my head over how incredibly fast Li truly is – the blindfolded fight sequence is just incredible!
There is also a bit of prejudice at work in the film, as Chen is in love with a Japanese woman, and his fellow students, his society frowns on it, as they are being occupied by those same forces. It’s a nice touch though that Chen won’t leave her just because of the way his country feels about her.
I quite enjoyed this film, and have actually seen it a couple of times now, but it is still stunning to watch. Sure the story is fairly basic, but Li imbues his character with a patience and charm that takes you in.
The final fight is amazing to watch, especially when the General draws a sword, and raises the battle, and Chen takes him on with his belt. Awesome!
The fight choreography is simply amazing, and one could easily skip the story part of the film and just fast forward to the fights, and you would still be entertained immensely!
The film moves along briskly to fill its 99 minute run time with as much action and story as it can fill, and believe me with how quickly Li moves, that’s a lot of action!
I greatly enjoyed this film, and was very happy to get a chance to revisit it. It’s not always easy to find the best martial arts films, but this one is definitely up there!
Have you seen it? What other Jet Li films would you recommend?