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Once Upon a Time In China (1991)

(aka: Wong Fei-Hung)



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Wong Fei-Hung is a figure in Chinese legend often compared to Robin Hood. The number of movies made about him are many, and their natures vastly different. This one is mostly a serious action drama about turn of the century China, then coping with an oppressive government, the influx of Western culture, and the invention of guns threatening the traditions of martial arts. Wong Fei-Hung is patriotic, but he's not prejudiced against foreigners either. As such, he's caught between two sets of extremists.

It sounds more historically significant than it is. Actually, Once Upon a Time In China is more of an entertainment than an examination of culture clash. And entertaining it is: there are plenty of action scenes and a complex story of numerous colliding characters and factions. It suffers in spots from being too one-sided or uneven, but ultimately it delivers.

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