Around 1997, Donnie Yen began directing his own films.
As I mentioned previously, the results were far from stellar.
In most cases, the storylines of Yen’s films were muddled, confusing, and often times just plain tedious, even by Hong Kong action movie standards.
Being as Donnie Yen was, at this point, already a supremely talented performer and fight choreographer, you would think he would put his best work on display in the films he directed, right?
Sadly this was not the case, just look at this example from Legend of the Wolf:
I don’t know how much coke they were on when they edited this, but I know someone had one hell of a time dubbing in the audio.
To be fair, the fight isn’t actually all that bad.
The fight is conducted at an incredibly frenetic pace, and some of the sparring is modestly complex, but the excessive use of confusing close-up shots and exaggerated undercranking result in a sequence that is just plain off-balance.
Although I do have to admit that the numerous “arm fencing” sequences are just plain fun.
The use of strange and experimental cinematography was rampant throughout most Donnie Yen directed films.
From the strangely artistic colored lighting in Ballistic Kiss, to the over-the-top undercranking in Legend of the Wolf, Yen was not a man afraid to deviate from the norms of Hong Kong cinema.
When you think about it, that’s actually a pretty admirable feat.
Though most of his movies were mediocre at best, (I personally thought Shanghai Affairs was his best, and even then it kind of sucked) they were always different, and never solely relied on his physical prowess to carry the show.
Check back later for “Part III – My Relationship with Mr. Yen!”