In the chinese movie universe, their most important martial arts historical figures have become in part of their cultural folklore, reimagining their stories countless of times, turning them into superheroes and fictional characters that trascends the passage of time and have overshadowed the real men behind their legend.
Is difficult to summarize how many times the story of Chen Zhen (which his real name was Liu Zhensheng) has been adpated into the screen, however, is undeniable that his more iconic incarnations has been the ones performed by Bruce Lee in “Fist of Fury” (1972) and Jet Li in “Fist of Legend” (1994)
This new adventure of the character, could perfectly work as prequel of “Fist of Legend”, telling the story of Chen Zhen, when his Master Huo Yuanjia, (another icon in martial arts cinema) sent him to Japan to study engineering in Tokyo´s university, to bring back tho his motherland all the knowledge that the country lacks of, to protect themselves against the enemy. Nonethelss, Chen Zhen meets Hiroko, a japanese girl in love with chinese culture, who steals his heart and gets him into trouble with an evil samurai, who was engaged with Hiroko by their parents, and blinded by his scorned heart, do not hesitate in challenge our hero to a duel of death for the love of the girl. In the middle of this romantic triangle, there´s a plot about the evil japanese army kidnapping chinese students to experiment on them, the developement of a drug that could create the perfect soldier. Chen Zhen, as a good symbol of cinematographic nationalism that he is, will not hesitate to put his neck in danger to save his countrymen.
A thrilling martial arts fest filled with insane choreographies of impossible movements and brutal blows, in which each impact seems to have the power to kill the enemy, daubed with a desperate and emotional love story that defies hatred between two enemy nations, reaching its climax in an ending that leaves the audience with bated breath…
Despite of the abuse of some cheap chromes, the setting of the story, shooting in studio recreating Tokyo from the early 1900´s, was really well made, and easily transporting the audience to that era, but not to an acurate historical journey, but most closely an idealized and fictional trip to that time, for the sake of entertainment.
Wang Wenjie was the choosen actor to portray Chen Zhen in this new adventure, giving personality to the character and displaying good skills to fight in front of the camera.
He was discovered in 2008, to participate in “Wu Shu”, a TV series produced by Jackie Chan and starred by Sammo Hung, and has been working in the vast chinese industry since then.
A highly recommendable martial arts spectacle that fans who long for the old glory days of the genre will enjoy as little kids.
Available with english subs in chinese streaming platform, Iqiyi