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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Fist of Legend (1994)



Reviews and Comments

The opening scene of Fist of Legend had me worried. Jet Li takes on a band of ruffians, and the ensuing fight results in a cringe-inducing series of broken bones and dislocated joints. I don't appreciate martial arts films that are graphic like that. Graphic violence can be a powerful tool in a film with something significant to say, but entertainment-oriented action works better when the hero isn't so much of a butcher.

As it turns out, however, that's the most graphic scene, and the rest of the action focuses more on breathtaking athleticism and rapid fire choreography. Moreover, we get a pretty good story about tensions between the Chinese and Japanese during the Japanese's occupation of Shanghai, which is particularly effective when societal pressures hit on a personal level.

Between the unusual attention given to story and character and the increasingly astounding fight scenes, this is a significant cut above the usual martial arts film. The climactic battle at the end is one of the most amazing I have seen.

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