Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

A Tribute to the Greatness that is Donnie Yen: Part VIII – Donnie Yen In The “Post Yip” Era

Finally startin to look his age...

A long time ago I wrote that I felt that director Wilson Yip was probably the best thing to ever happen to Donnie Yen’s career.

First teaming up in 2005 for the cop drama/action flick SPL, the 2 would end up collaborating on 5 consecutive films.

With the sole exception of the somewhat lackluster Dragon Tiger Gate, all of said films were of stellar quality; easily ranking as some of the best in Mr. Yen’s career.

While Yen’s incredible longevity allowed him to effectively outlast the majority of his contemporaries, namely Jet Li and Jackie Chan; and his innovative fighting performance and choreography skills certainly put him ahead of the pack, this writer would argue that Wilson Yip’s cinematographic skills and eye for detail had just as much to do with his rise to prominence as any of the aforementioned factoids.

Besides, any man that makes shit like Bio Zombie clearly knows what theyre doing. No sarcasm intended.

That being said, it’s now 2011; and while he’s been detached from Wilson Yip ever since the production of Ip Man 2, Donnie Yen is still the reigning king of Hong Kong screen fighters.

So, why am I not happy?

I’m just about as big a Donnie Yen fan as you’ll ever meet, but truth be told; as much as I like the man’s work, like most screen fighters he’s made an alarming number of shitty movies.

In fact, if you don’t count Blade 2; a movie he choreographed by held maybe 5 minutes of screen time in, I don’t think I’ve genuinely liked a non-Wilson Yip Donnie Yen movie since Shanghai Affairs back in ’98, and even that kind of sucked.

Sadly, now that Yen doesn’t seem to have any projects lined up with Wilson Yip in the foreseeable future; I’m left feeling like things are going to go back to the way they were, with Donnie Yen steadily churning out crap movies with decent fights.

...Or in the case of the Twins Effect movies, crappy movies with crappy fights. Thats Jackie Chan on the right by the way.

Despite an astoundingly well cut trailer for it’s U.S. release, make no mistake Legend of the Fist: Return of Chen Zhen, Yen’s first film of the “Post Yip Era”; is most assuredly hot garbage.

I own a Hong Kong blu ray of Legend of the Fist, and while Yen’s physical performance was actually pretty amazing, as detailed here; the movie itself was one of the most boring kung fu movies I’ve seen in a long time.

At present, Mr. Yen has a handful of movies on his plate, most notably a mysterious Peter Chan film called Swordsmen, and 2 other films titled The Lost Bladesman and The Monkey King.

I’ve purposely decided to forego any mention of the most recent All’s Well, Ends Well, as while it does in fact include Donnie Yen in it’s cast; no force on Earth could make me see it as a “Donnie Yen film.”

Yeah, not exactly high on my "must see" list...

Anyway, The Lost Bladesman sees Donnie Yen taking on the role of famed Chinese general and folk hero Guan Yu in a wuxia film.

Trailers for this one have been popping up pretty regularly as of late, with most of the footage doing little to light a fire in my pants.

Sure, it has Donnie Yen.

Sure he’s hitting people while sporting a pimp beard and guan dao.

Even so, the production values seem a little below standard, and the cinematography and choreography seem about on par with the mediocrity of Yen’s own 14 Blades.

For those that may be unaware, any film that draws comparisons to 14 Blades has it’s work cut out for it in terms of not sucking.

Pictured: Donnie Yen squaring off against Captain Jack Sparrow.

That leaves 2012’s The Monkey King as the one Yen movie to bear the weight of making up for the past couple of years of “meh.”

While it’s certainly far off in terms of being released, in all honesty; The Monkey King actually seems like it might be worth the wait.

No footage exists as of yet, but given that the story is a retelling of the Journey to the West, essentially the Chinese myth of myths; and given the incredible assortment of talent involved in the production, I’ve got a good feeling about it.

Sure, it’ll probably be CGI’d to shit and make Donnie Yen look like a complete goof ball; but the art style of the poster and Cheang Pou Soi’s involvement as director will likely make up for it.

I don't know about you, but if you ask me that's a pretty awesome fuckin' poster.

Seriously man, if the same Cheang Pou Soi that made Dog Bite Dog and Shamo shows up for this one, we’re in for one helluva’ ride.

Despite all the pessimism of everything mentioned above, let it be known; I remain hopeful for Donnie Yen’s career.

In many ways, I think my “disappointment” in some of his recent projects spawns from my general lack of enthusiasm for mainland China productions as compared to Hong Kong ones.

Wuxia works when it works, but for the most part it’s not what you’d call my favorite genre.

Whatever the future holds for Mr. Yen, I only hope that whatever crappy or mediocre productions he’s involved in continue to be the fault of writers and directors as opposed to Donnie Yen himself…

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Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

So… I Just Ordered Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen

*GASP!* Donnie Yen!? Kicking people!? Since when?

Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen is not supposed to be a good movie.

For that matter, it’s not even supposed to be a good Donnie Yen movie.

Given the often times mercurial range in overall quality throughout Mr. Yen’s film career, I’ll leave it up to you to interpret that statement however you like.

Though it supposedly features the golden kung fu-to-xenophobia ratio that seems to be working so well for Hong Kong films these days; I’ve honestly yet to find a review that makes it sound to be anything more than average at best.

This, my friends; represents one of those few instances wherein the Azn Badger casts aside his particularly, uh, particular standards for film purchases, and concedes to the will of his inner fanboy.

“It’s Donnie Yen.  It’s new.  It’s a sequel to a Bruce Lee movie than in no way required a sequel. I’m buying it.”

Bear in mind, I may be a Donnie Yen fan, but I don’t go about buying his shittier movies indiscriminately.

I didn’t bite for The Twins Effect.

I certainly didn’t bite for An Empress and the Warriors.

I did bite for 14 Blades, but only because of Donnie Yen’s pimpin’ facial hair in it.

PIMP.

If it’s worth anything towards salvaging what little reputation I have, please note that I purchased the DVD version of The Return of Chen Zhen, as opposed to the Blu Ray.

Hey, HD is fuckin’ amazing, but there’s no way my inner Azn would allow me to spend that kind of money, much less on something that is very likely pure ass.

Moving on, The Return of Chen Zhen represents an odd case of a movie being made (in this case a sequel) that no one asked for.

 

*Cough!* Not that Hollywood would know anything about THAT...

Meant to act as a sequel of sorts to Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury/Jet Li’s Fist of Legend/Donnie Yen’s Fist of Fury TV show, Return of Chen Zhen follows the exploits of and, dare I say; return, of fictional Huo Yuanjia disciple, Chen Zhen.

I honestly don’t know the plot of the film, but I’m sure it involves those sneaky Japs being, well, sneaky and Japanese.

 

Fine. Don't talk about your job when I'm around. Guess I'll just have to boil your children now...

It’s a strange feeling, anticipating feelings of joy at the sight of a little Chinese man beating the ever-loving shit out of your own people…

Being as The Return of Chen Zhen is in fact a Chinese film, I anticipate little to no historical accuracy to be apparent in the film’s plot or characterization.

Especially since from what I’ve read and seen in trailers, Chen Zhen apparently practices parkour, not to mention dons a Kato-esque masked vigilante get-up.

Disguise or not, Donnie Yen's ego manages to give him away every time...

Never mind that Chen Zhen was shot 50 bajillion times at the end of Fist of Fury…

Oh well, it’s a Chinese movie, and we all know Chinese heroes don’t die until they’re damn well ready to.

Anyway, I honestly don’t have anything else to say about this one.

Hopefully it’ll be better than I’ve read, though I did hear rumors that Donnie Yen made frequent, and visible use of stunt doubles in the film, to the point in which it’s kind of hurt his reputation.

It’s never a good thing when the star of the film, a man that can’t act worth shit and is really only good for hitting people; starts relying on others to do the hitting for him.

Anyway, expect a review of this one once I get my hands on it.

In the meantime, check out the trailer below:

Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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