True Legend (R15)

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Review byMatthew Turner28/09/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 114 mins

True Legend has its flaws and makes only fleeting use of its touted 3D effects but it just about delivers the goods if all you're really looking for is almost two hours of chop-socky wire-fu action.

What's it all about?
Directed by legendary fight co-ordinator and wushu / wire-fu specialist Yuen Woo-Ping (The Matrix, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), True Legend stars Vincent Zhao as Su Can, an honourable Qing dynasty general who just wants to settle down with his beautiful wife Ying (Zhou Xun) and their young son. However, after clashing with his evil brother Yuan Lie (Andy On) and falling foul of his vicious Five Venom Fists technique, Su Can is left for dead after he falls in the river and floats downstream and a distraught Ying promptly leaps in after him, leaving their son in Yuan Lie's hands.

Revived by kindly mountain doctor Dr Yu (Michelle Yeoh), Su Can resolves to perfect his Drunken Fist fighting style and vows to reunite his family. In order to do so, he receives instruction from the God of Wushu (Jay Chou) and an Old Sage (Gordon Liu), eventually becoming known as Beggar Su (the film's original title is The Legend of Beggar Su).

The Good
The performances are pretty decent – Zhao makes an appealing lead, while Andy On has a lot of fun hamming it up as Yuan Lie, with his Five Venom Fists and his sewn-on armour plating. There are also genre-pleasing cameos from Michelle Yeoh (who doesn't really get enough to do), Gordon Liu (you may remember him from Kill Bill) and even David Carradine (who died last year) as the ringmaster of a group of vicious Russian wrestlers.

As you'd expect from Yuen Woo-Ping, the fight scenes are excellent and involve all manner of weaponry as well as the use of wire-fu and other techniques. The 3D effects are used sparingly (for the dream sequences with Liu and Chou's characters), with an onscreen icon that tells you when to put your glasses on but doesn't actually tell you when to take them off again.

The Bad
The script is melodramatic at best and there are some weirdly rushed pieces of storytelling (the climax in particular), suggesting that the fight sequences were more important to Yuen Woo-Ping than character and plot.

Worth seeing?
True Legend is an entertaining martial arts drama that delivers plenty of chop-socky action. Worth seeing if you like that sort of thing.

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Content updated: 18/01/2019 20:56

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