Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Thoughts On Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen

Donnie Yen’s butt.

That, my friends; is the one element of Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen that I can honestly say I’ve never seen elsewhere.

That one goofy and slightly embarrassing little detail aside, Return of Chen Zhen is a bipolar mess of a film that can only be recommended to the most hardcore of Donnie Yen fans, I.E. me.

The basic plot is as follows:

Picking up after the conclusion of Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury, Chen Zhen (Donnie Yen) flees China for the French battlefield of WWI.

How he managed to survive charging headlong into a hail of gunfire after the events of Fist of Fury, is never explained.

During the war, one of Chen Zhen’s friends is shot dead, prompting him to go apeshit and kill a bunch of Germans via the combined techniques of parkour and shank-fu.

*Cue shitty rip-off of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme* What? You think I'm kidding?

Much violence and badassery ensues.

With that, Chen Zhen opts to assume his fallen friend’s identity as he sets off for Shanghai; declaring his homeland his new battlefield in fighting against Chinese oppression.

Why he decides to take out his aggression on the occupying Japanese (embodied by the decidedly flacid antagonist played by Kohata Ryu)  instead of the German forces that were directly responsible for his friend’s death, is not explained.

Once in China, Chen Zhen uses his resources to build himself a network of newsies, students, war vets, and cops to serve as his Shadow-esque eyes and ears.

He also invests in a pencil-thin fake mustache, seemingly just because pencil-thin mustaches are pimp.

"Hello, I'm Donnie Yen, and you sir; have just stumbled upon my secret Pimp Party. Prepare to be kicked in the face... Repeatedly."

How Chen Zhen acquires said resources to put together said network, and purchase said mustache, is never explained.

Now firmly established as a wealthy entrepreneur of sorts in Shanghai, Chen Zhen links up with fellow wealthy socialite and nightclub owner, Li Yutian (Anthony Wong) in order to spread his influence… At least that’s what I got out of it anyway.

Li’s nightclub also happens to play host to a foxy singer named Kiki (Shu Qi) whom Chen Zhen quickly becomes attracted to.

Donnie Yen would hit it, but y'know; supermodel wife...

The wikipedia entry for this movie states that Chen Zhen “is romantically attracted to Kiki,” however this is hardly evident in the film.

I know they’re Chinese, and they’re not good at that whole “love” thing, or y’know; talking to each other, but when 2 characters never so much as hold hands throughout a movie, I find it hard to believe they’re “romantically attracted” to each other.

Not only that, but their most intimate moment is actually when Chen Zhen threatens to kill her.

ROMANCE.

Anyway, in case you couldn’t tell; Kiki really ruined the movie for me.

Usually I kind of like Shu Qi’s bubbly cutesy-ness, as was the case in the delightfully, uh, adequate Jackie Chan flick, Gorgeous; but this time around her role was just plain ugly.

Her character’s arc, much like the flow of the entire film, is predictable; yet somehow all over the place all at the same time.

Not only that, she’s shitfaced for roughly 3 quarters of the film, making her a very difficult character to like.

I’m guessing her character was supposed to be tragic, but in the end; she just brought the whole movie down by needlessly slowing the pace with frequent, and boring dialogue scenes.

Speaking of boring dialogue scenes, Return of Chen Zhen has a fuck ton of ’em!

In most cases I can deal with inane and extraneous dialogue, but in the case of this movie; I actually found myself muttering the words:

“Jesus fuck man, I DON’T CARE.

Well okay, I didn’t exactly “mutter” those words so much as yell them, but you get the point.

Needless to say, Return of Chen Zhen has some writing issues… And pacing issues…  And it smells funny.

Now, when I said Return of Chen Zhen was a “bipolar” movie, I was of course speaking of it’s up and down pacing, specifically the jarring contrast between it’s action sequences, and the rest of the film.

In short:

Return of Chen Zhen has some pretty spankin’ fight sequences.

Heh heh, I like the part when the one dude gets kicked in the face. That was cool...

While nearly all of it is of the classic, Dynasty Warriors/1 man vs. the world style, most of it is well choreographed, and perhaps more importantly; competently shot.

Make no mistake, while the staging of the fights was indeed very good in Return of Chen Zhen, the editor, and perhaps more importantly; the cinematographer deserve a special pat on the back for their contributions.

While not so great a fight, this shot was pretty enough to redeem it.

Donnie Yen served as action choreographer for this one, and if there’s anything Donnie Yen is good at; it’s making himself look good.

While I heard reports that indicated an excessive use of stunt doubles for this film, I can honestly say that I didn’t notice them.

I’m assuming most of the parkour and stunt work was filmed using doubles, but everything that counts in my book, that is; the punching and kicking of people’s faces, was definitely all Yen.

Trust me, nobody throws kicks like Donnie Yen, nobody.

So… Where are his balls during all of this?

Speaking of which, from an action standpoint, Return of Chen Zhen serves as a sort of “best of” for Donnie Yen’s various trademark moves.

From the leaping spinning back kick above, to the cheesy windmill uppercuts of old, to even some of the joint locks and MMA style moves seen in SPL and Flashpoint; pretty much every cool thing Donnie Yen has done to someone throughout his career is featured, and ably performed in this movie at some point, with satisfyingly brutal results.

Though sadly there’s no breakdance fighting ala Mismatched Couples…

Kung Fu B-Boy Donnie Yen!

Getting back to the movie, seeing as most of the fight sequences in Return of Chen Zhen have Mr. Yen clothed in a Kato-esque mask and suit, the movements and strikes incorporated into the choreography bear a satisfying and altogether appropriate “superhero-y” quality to them.

That is to say:

When people get hit in this movie, they fly across the room and then some.

Yeah, that guy's goin' through a wall... Or 2.

Normally I’m not a fan of wirework in my kung fu movies, but their use in this film was largely used for the simple effect of slamming people into bookcases/windows/walls/platypuses, instead of the more fanciful bullshit as in Dragon Tiger Gate and other such films.

In all, Donnie Yen’s physical performance was nothing short of incredible in Return of Chen Zhen.

Given his relatively advanced age for the genre, (47) dreading the day when Donnie Yen suddenly gets old overnight and can’t perform as well he used to, but goddamnit; Father Time must owe him money or something, ’cause if anything he looked better in this movie than he did 2 years ago.

My guess is, the Ip Man movies actually served to smother Mr. Yen’s performances a bit over the past few years.

Wing Chun is a very practical, and straightforward fighting system; and one that is foreign to Donnie Yen’s martial talents.

As I mentioned earlier, Return of Chen Zhen was choreographed by Donnie Yen, for Donnie Yen, and in getting back to the basics, I think Mr. Yen showed us all that he’s still got it.

Anyway, enough cock-sucking.

In closing, I’d just like to point out a few little tidbits I felt needed mentioning:

Yasuaki Kurata and Shawn Yue have cameos in this movie.

They’re brief, and largely pointless; but it was fun seeing them nonetheless.

Would’ve really liked to have seen Kurata do a bit of fighting, seeing as he seemed relatively spry in Master of Thunder a few years ago, but oh well; take what you can get.

If you didn't see it already, then you probably shouldn't...

The vast majority of the sets for Return of Chen Zhen were very obviously recycled from the one used for Bodyguards and Assassins.

While it’s an incredible set, and definitely worth revisiting, there’s no denying that it was framed with a lot more love in Bodyguards and Assassins, and thusly comes across as kind of cheap looking this time around.

Also, if you’ve seen Bodyguards and Assassins, then it’s kind of surreal looking at little things like staircases and windows and remembering them, very clearly; from their use in that movie, which is peculiar being as Bodyguards and Assassins took place in Hong Kong, while Return of Chen Zhen is set in Shanghai.

I suppose it’s worth noting that, yes; the Japanese are the villains of this movie, and yes; they are portrayed as the most vile, baby boiling, dog kicking sons of bitches you’ve ever met.

Xenophobia has always been marketable in Chinese films, and nothing is ever gonna’ change that.

Regardless of how bad they make my people look, as long as Hong Kong keeps pumping out awesome movies about people kicking each other in the brain, I honestly don’t care.

Anyway, the plot sucked, the characters were boring, the dialogue was excessive and dull… but the fighting was pretty good.

If you love to see Donnie Yen do his thing, see it.

If not, then all you’re really missing is Donnie Yen’s butt.

Can you live without seeing Donnie Yen’s butt?

Advertisements

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

Azn Badger’s Top 5 Jackie Chan Songs That Keep Him From Stabbing People

Happy Azn Face!

Jackie Chan is a man of many talents.

He’s an actor.

Sad Azn Face...

He’s a stunt man.

Jackie auditioning for the role of Doc Brown in Back to the Future. Despite many broken bones, he didn't get the part...

He’s Mitsubishi’s bitch.

Jackie likes him some Bitsu Mishi...

But the one thing that many of us over here in the ‘states seem to forget from time to time, (or simply be unaware of) is that he’s also a singer.

"War! HOOH! Good God, j'all!"

It’s true, like any good Asian celebrity, Jackie Chan is known to bust out a song or 2 every now and again, seemingly just for the hell of it.

That being said, while I’ve never listened to any of his albums, I have watched a shit ton of his movies, and therefore have heard a shit ton of the theme songs he sang for them.

While I’ll be the first to admit the man will never win any awards for his vocal talents, I gotta’ say; most of his songs are exceptionally well produced, with fun lyrics and wonderfully arranged instrumentation.

I’m not kidding, the man makes some pretty good songs.

Anyway, enough set up, let’s get to the Jackie Chan music!:

#5. Thunderbolt


Let’s get one thing straight, Thunderbolt is not a good Jackie Chan movie.

The movie had a massive budget, and was clearly designed to appeal to an international (read: Japanese) audience; yet it’s overly complicated plot, poorly shot racing scenes, and mediocre fight scenes led to it being a huge letdown for me.

Okay, THIS was pretty cool, but the rest of the movie sucked...

Despite all that though, Thunderbolt does have a pretty spankin’ theme song.

Played several times throughout the movie, the song has a very bold and heroic sound to it that really grabs hold of you.

In addition to this, the electronic sampling used in the tune cleverly evoke imagery of automotive or garage tools, effectively creating an association between the song and the racing world that the movie takes place in.

Thunderbolt:  Great song, shitty movie.

#4. Who Am I?


“WAH’ CHADAH’ NAH’ JO-HOOOOOOO!!!!!”

I honestly can’t tell you how many times I’ve yelled that for no reason.

Such is the power of the theme song of 1998’s Who Am I?

Pictured: A shitty, and tonally inappropriate poster that looks ripped off from a Steven Seagal movie.

Who Am I? was what I tend to consider one of Jackie Chan’s last really good physical performances.

Along with Gorgeous, (which was only an okay movie) Who Am I? represented Jackie Chan at his best, albeit while approaching the end of his physical prime.

In other words, it was these 2 movies that directly preceded his brief, yet image crushing career in Hollywood.

Pictured: That one Brit from Mouse Hunt gets caught assisting Jackie in shitting all over his career.

That being said, I really liked Who Am I?

The movie was fast-paced, had a colorful and exciting plot, and finally, after so many years of Jackie movies that ended with hovercraft chases and Nazi strongholds exploding, gave us a good final fight between Jackie a pair of dudes instead.

The Ear Pull: According to Vulcan Raven it's some sort of sport to the Eskimos.

Seriously, why can’t more movies end like that?

Anyway, Who Am I? is an incredibly catchy song that I’ve tried many thousands of times to sing along to.

Being as I honestly don’t even know what language it’s sung in, (Cantonese and… I don’t know) my attempts have never gotten much further than:

“WAH’ CHADAH’ NAH’ JO-HOOOOOOO!!!!!”

Honestly though, that’s all I need to remember from this song to fuckin’ love the shit out of it.

#3. Kung Fu Fighting Man


The Young Master is one of my favorite movies of the early years of Jackie Chan’s career.

The film showcases Jackie’s juggling skills, and impeccable comedic timing, while at the same time features some especially physical fight scenes for the time, including an especially protracted final battle with Hap Ki Do master Hwang In-Shik.

In case you didn’t get that last part, I shall translate into kung fu movie layman’s terms:

At the end, Jackie fights a Korean guy.  For a really long time.

10 minutes. 10 minutes of watching Jackie get pwned to shit...

Anyway, besides being an excellent film, Young Master also has the benefit of having a really awesome theme song, that also just happens to be the first song Jackie ever did for one of his movies.

Bearing a tune that’s decidedly disco, Kung Fu Fighting Man is sung entirely in English, adding to it’s appeal in the eyes of non-Cantonese speakers such as myself.

The lyrics are cheesy and borderline nonsensical, but in many ways I feel that adds to the appeal of the song.

It’s a silly kung fu song, for a silly kung fu movie about a silly Kung Fu Fighting Man.

What more could you ask for?

#2. I’ll Make A Man Out Of You


That’s right, there’s a Disney song on this list.

Honestly man, If you can’t appreciate Disney movies, then you are the living embodiment of sour puss-ery; ’cause Disney movies were (I don’t know about these days…) the shit.

You see this crab? He's THE SHIT. Got it!?

Anyway, did you know that Jackie Chan performed the Mandarin version of I’ll Make A Man Out Of You?

Well, he did; and quite well at that.

While I’ve found some of Jackie’s Mandarin songs, and indeed his speaking; sometimes seem a little stilted, this song, along with the one he did for Drunken Master 2, are actually quite good.

I suppose it's easy for your singing to sound "stilted" when you're drunk off your gourd.

Make no mistake, I’ll Make A Man Out Of You is a Disney product, so it obviously has some pretty strong lyrics, as well as the backing of a full orchestra.

It’s a powerful and inspiring tune, that curiously enough, sounds to me like it may have been written to accomodate the Mandarin lyrics moreso than the English ones.

Honestly, listen to it both ways and decide for yourself which language flows with the music best:

#1. High Up On High!


Honestly, how could I not put High Up On High at the top of this list?

It’s big, it’s loud, it’s the cheesiest fuckin’ piece of 80’s Chinese trash you’ve ever heard, but goddamnit; High Up On High is the shit.

Armour of God was a weird Jackie Chan movie.

The action quotient was all out of whack, the plot was all over the place, but the whole thing has a distinctive charm to it that just makes it work.

Um... I don't get it.

Truth be told, I liked the sequel, Operation Condor; a lot more, but even so; Armor of God was a good time, in no small part due to the inclusion of songs like High Up On High, and Alan Tam’s equally cheesy Midnight Rider.

That being said, High Up On High is another Jackie Chan song sung entirely in English.

Well, broken English anyway.

There is indeed a Cantonese version of the song, entitled Flight of the Dragon, however I personally prefer High Up On High for it’s bad/good appeal.

Like most of Jackie’s songs, the music is exceptionally well-crafted, with a high energy, over-the-top rock sound to it that is fuckin’ loud and stupid that you just can’t help but love it.

Anyway, that’s the Top 5 Jackie Chan Songs That Keep Me From Stabbing People.

Have a good night, and I’ll see yah’ tomorrow!

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

Donate