Finished The Legend with Jet Li. Made the same year as City Hunter, this is visually a far-superior film. Itâ€™s actually quite beautifulâ€“Cory Yuen has a gift for composition, sometimes making nice use of the wide-angle lens, tilted angles, low angles, low-tilted angles.
Thereâ€™s a great deal of humor as wellâ€“and itâ€™s much better than the humor in City Hunter, though I find the latterâ€™s more endearing.
Fong Tuk is the father of Sai-Yuk (Jet Li), who displeases his father to no end. The father is a bit sternâ€“and itâ€™s clear within the first 20 minutes or so that Fong Tuk alternately beats his wife and woos her with love poems. His wife, Miu Chiu-Fa, is probably the best thing in the film. Sheâ€™s played by the marvelous Josephine Siao, who I understand was a big star in 60â€™s Cantonese comedies and sword-play films.
Itâ€™s hard to explain the plot, but itâ€™s a bit like this: the Manchu emperor is worried about being assassinated. The Red Lotus Society, a real underground resistance movement, haunts his dreams. Knowing that a list of its member exists, he orders that it be found so that the Society can be wiped out.
The first time we see Jet-Li in action is in a track and field competition. Needing a fourth runner in a relay, Sai-Yuk asks a girl, the daughter of the rich and powerful Tiger Luk, to be the fourth runner. Sheâ€™s smitten with Sai-Yuk, and of course they win the relay.
Meanwhile, Tiger Luk (who wishes to endear himself to the emperor), plans to marry his daughter off to the winner of a kung fu competition. Miu Chiu-Fa, dressed as a man, named Fong Tai-Yuk, enters the competition and wins. But itâ€™s not Tiger Luiâ€™s daughter who is won, but a maiden posing as Tiger Luiâ€™s daughter. She falls hopelessly in love with the victor, but he (she) disappears. Tiger visits Miu Chiu-Fa, looking for find Tai-Yuk. She and Sai-Yuk (dressed as a girl) insist that Tai-Yuk died and was cremated. But Sai-Yuk is quickly exposed and captured (Tiger thinks Sai-Yuk is Tai-Yuk). He is brought to Tigerâ€™s home to marry Tiger Luiâ€™s daughter, but the real daughter wants nothing to do with Tai-Yuk because sheâ€™s in love with the boy who asked her to join him in the relay, Sai-Yuk.
Well, you get the idea. Itâ€™s a comedy of errors. And itâ€™s quite good. Tong Fuk discovers that his wife and son have created a big mess and leavesâ€“saying he must keep an appointment. The mother and son follow, and soon discover that Tong Fuk is actually a member of the Red Lotus Society and, more than this, the emperorâ€™s minions have found him.
So now itâ€™s father, mother, and son against the emperorâ€™s minions. And the action sequences really pick up. A nice moment comes when the emperorâ€™s main dude (played by Vincent Zhao) and Jet Li face off in a nice stick fighting sequence. In the stand-off, the minion says â€œI see your stick is too short to win,â€ to which Jet Li replies â€œif yours were harder, it wouldnâ€™t bend like that!â€ Ba-boom ting! Itâ€™s actually a great scene.
Another comic scene follows, and again Josephine Siao shines. But the final action sequence, the scene of Sai-Yukâ€™s fatherâ€™s execution, is the best of all. Vincent Zhao versus Jet Li.
Great stuff, but I think I like City Hunter better.