JACKIE CHAN AND THE
KUNG FU KID
Original Title: Xun Zhao Cheng Long (aka) Looking For Jackie; Jackie Chan: Kung Fu Master; Searching For Jackie
Directed by Fang Gang Liang, Jiang Ping Produced by Shi Dong Ming Action by Yuen Bo, San Chou Starring: Zhang Yi Shan, Jackie Chan, Zhang Yi Bai, Tiffany Tang, Jiang Hong Bo, Lam Wai, Yuen Wah, Yuen Bun, Yuen Qiu Reviewing: Kaleidoscope UK DVD Release Genres: Family / Adventure / Martial Arts
Rating - 3 / 5
DVD Synopsis: A 15-year-old Chinese boy spends his days dreaming of what it would be like to meet his idol, martial arts superstar, Jackie Chan. Unable to concentrate in school, he heads to his grandparents in the city and devotes himself to tracking down the kung fu legend. On his epic journey of discovery, our want-to-be karate kid learns the fighting skills he desires, but also valuable lessons in life from the different people and strange places he finds himself in. The biggest test awaits however when he is kidnapped by a torn-apart family that has suffered a tragic loss. Can the dreamer become a Kung Fu hero himself? And can Jackie Chan rescue him from his nightmares? Featuring Jackie Chan (Forbidden Kingdom, Rush Hour, New Karate Kid) – this is the story of a real karate kid! (85 Mins)
Views: Setting a new record for family movies upon its release in China, the more accurately titled Looking For Jackie, is a charming comedy-drama about a teenage boy who is determined to meet his hero Jackie Chan – and learn kung-fu from him. Leaving one grandmother behind in Indonesia, Zhang Yi Shan flies to Beijing to stay with his other grandparents after finding out that Jackie will be shooting his next film there. On the way to their home, Zhang takes a detour to the place he believes is the filming location and soon finds himself lost and stuck at a temple. Befriended by a young female disciple who takes him under her wing, the young fan does what he can to find his hero and stay out of trouble...
There's been a lot of hate for this coming-of-age, family comedy over the years. And mainly that's down to the distributors once again lying with promotional materials that Jackie Chan & The Kung Fu Kid is an all-out, Jackie Chan-led, martial arts epic! Of course, when most viewers put the film on and realise that this low-budget TV movie isn't anything of the sort, you can't blame them for their negative remarks. That said, it isn't really all that bad! While it obviously looks like a television production, Jackie Chan & The Kung Fu Kid is still a very watchable film with plenty of great fight action and plenty of charm. Of course, it still has plenty of flaws such as its uneven script, silly subplots, and heavy melodrama that seems to be shoved into the storyline in the oddest of places. But what else can you expect from a team of new writers and directors?
Although sold as a Jackie Chan movie, the main focus would actually be on older child actor Zhang Yi Shan (in only his second role I believe). Zhang carries a cheeky charm about him as the young fan who is determined to find his hero. While he often comes across as a trouble maker and pain in the ass, I quite enjoyed his role and would be lying if I said I wasn't jealous of his adventures – never mind his role. Although a skinny-wee twig of a guy, Zhang impresses both as an actor and a martial artist as he gets to show off his moves in a number of fight scenes throughout. He obviously did a good job and has continued acting to this very day, starring in a host of movies like Bruce Lee My Brother, Beginning Of The Great Revival, and Mr. Six with Feng Xiao Gang. Having chased Jackie Chan myself around North America during his Rush Hour & Tuxedo days, and always missing him by a day or so – I can relate to Zhang's disappointment as he misses his chances to catch up and fights the world to get that little bit closer. Perhaps this is why I enjoy Jackie Chan & The Kung Fu Kid a little more than most, and the moment he finally gets to meet his hero is most likely how I'd probably react myself!
While it's definitely been made for a local audience, Hong Kong cinema fans can relish while catching a few great faces on-screen when Jackie is absent. Many of his opera school brothers appear such as Yuen Wah, Yuen Bun, Yuen Miu, and the landlady herself, Yuen Qiu. Tiffany Tang, from Storm Warriors and Europe Raiders, gets in on the action as an actress in one of Jackie's movies, and Jiang Hong-Bo gets to show some great moves as the policewoman who helps Zhang. David Lam Wai, popular actor from films such as Project A 2, Royal Warriors, and A Chinese Ghost Story, cameos as Zhang's teacher, with Wu Yue getting to show his stuff as the school wushu coach. Interestingly enough, Wu would go on to star with Jackie the following year in Big Little Soldier and star as Master Wan in Ip Man 4 against Donnie Yen. And of course, we can't forget about Jackie Chan. Opening with a fun action scene starring the legend, we see him flit in and out of the majority of the film – appearing in advertisements on television and in airports, as well as catching him on mugs, posters, and news channels. He does get a few fight scenes throughout which are fun and while he is doubled for a number of the flashier kicks, still looks good in action. It's a far cry from his glory days, but with his opera brother Yuen Bo behind the choreography (and Jackie himself no doubt putting his 10 pence worth in also), there's still enough action to enjoy.
All in all, Looking For Jackie is the true title of the film when you consider Zhang's story. We've all been there at some stage in our lives, whether it's in regards to Jackie Chan or someone else (and possibly not on such as grand an adventure) and while it's hardly the most polished production ever made you can't deny it's entertainment value and charm. With plenty of martial arts action, a glimpse into the world of Chinese film making and Beijing Studios, and the legendary Jackie Chan, of course, this is worth the watch at least once and makes for a fun time for all the family...
Overall: An enjoyable martial arts comedy for the family, with plenty of life lessons and charm that should relate to many true Jackie Chan fans!
JACKIE CHAN: FROM
STUNTMAN TO SUPERSTAR
Directed by Betsy Rosenfield Produced by Alan Goldberg Starring: Jackie Chan, Ric Meyers, Wesley Snipes, Fredric Dannen, Hal Needham, Richard Corliss, Michelle Yeoh, Stanley Tong, Annie Wu Reviewing: IMC Limited UK VHS Release Genres: Documentary / Biography
Rating - 2 / 5
VHS Synopsis: Athlete, gymnast, martial arts supremo, stuntman, producer, director and comedy actor extraordinaire, there is no one else to touch him in modern movie history. Born in Hong Kong he was at the age of seven enrolled in a Peking opera school where, for the next ten years, he learnt dancing, singing, miming, acting and martial arts, most days working from 8.00am until midnight. Forty films later, his stunt work has truly astonished his audience of millions worldwide. He has broken nearly every bone in his body, performing every stunt imaginable including; jumping from the top of a building onto a helicopter ladder, rolling down a mountain inside an inflatable ball, hanging on the outside of a moving bus from an umbrella, running across a bed of burning coals and leaping from the top of a mountain into a passing hot air balloon. In short, he is a human phenomenon, a living legend and JACKIE CHAN: from stuntman to superstar will show you why! (60 Mins)
Views: Narrated by Judd Rose, this History Channel documentary of the worlds most beloved movie star is typical in its production values for the mid 90s, which makes it very dated looking today. Using a number of US Jackie Chan fans and film critics to tell his life story such as Wesley Snipes, Ric Meyers, Fredric Dannen, Hal Needham, Michelle Yeoh and Stanley Tong, the doco also features a number of interviews with the superstar himself. And while Meyers and Dannen tell stories of Jackie's history, Wesley and Hal talk more passionately about Chan as a film maker and action hero with each of them following Judd's narration of Jackie Chan's timeline up to the mid-90s. The most exciting part of this documentary is getting to see Jackie at work behind the scenes on the Police Story films including First Strike, Armour Of God, and Thunderbolt, as well as listening to him tell his own stories and go over his worst accidents. The quality of the BTS footage and photographs is pretty poor by today's standards to be honest, but it still gives a good insight to what is going on – although there really isn't anything we haven't seen delivered better today on Blu-ray releases from 88 Films or others. At just 42 minutes long, it's a not exactly the perfect way to learn about Jackie Chan's life and career – in fact, you couldn't even fit his life story up until his teenage film career into that length of time – but its not a terrible introduction either. That said, with the wonderful world of the internet at our fingertips, its a documentary that could most likely be missed in return for a more dedicated production such as his very own Jackie Chan: My Story and Jackie Chan: My Stunts...
In fact, I actually have a fan-made documentary on VHS simply titled, Jackie Chan Documentary that I bought from a private collector before DVD's were a thing. I couldn't tell you who was behind it, but it offers a hell of a lot more excitement and footage than that of the History Channel's beige production. Opening with an extended version of that famous footage of him choreographing 36 Crazy Fists, a short Australian documentary follows that gives some incredible insights to Jackie's thought process and unseen footage from Police Story 2, all delivered with a more natural approach than the A&E produced program. This particular documentary runs almost twice as long with many interviews, clips, mini documentaries, and lots of behind-the-scenes footage – including an embarrassing 'martial arts' display on UK television show Tiz Waz to promote The Big Brawl, where a gang of British karate students get to fight him in a staged scuffle. Once over, presenter Sally James actually gives a decent interview with Jackie that was fun to watch and less patronising than most of today's interviews would be with him. A rare Chinese trailer for Half A Loaf Of Kung Fu follows, as does original trailers for other Lo Wei/Jackie Chan films, and an incredibly rare Hong Kong interview on the set of Dragon Lord where Jackie recreates some stunt-work live before joining Lydia Shum on stage with his manager, Willie Chan. More great Hong Kong television interviews continue that show rare footage of Jackie off-set, taking place on entertainment shows, singing live, and so much more. It's actually any major Chan fan's wet-dream to have, but with my video tape on its way out I fear I might only get one more watch from it before it stops playing!
Overall: A product of its time and typical in its American 90s television delivery, Jackie Chan: From Stuntman To Superstar is pretty dated, but still shows enough Jackie Chan footage to keep fans happy!
JACKIE CHAN: MY STORY
JACKIE CHAN: MY STUNTS
(Hong Kong 1998/9)
Directed by Jackie Chan Produced by Thomas Leung Action by Jackie Chan Starring: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Willie Chan, Stanley Tong, Yuen Biao, Sylvester Stallone, Michelle Yeoh, David Wu, Martin Lawrence, Arthur Hiller Reviewing: Hong Kong Legends UK DVD Release Genres: Documentary / Biography
Rating - 3.3 / 5 (My Story) 4.3 / 5 (My Stunts)
DVD Synopsis: Presented by Jackie Chan himself, this fascinating dual documentary features a wealth of information on his life, his passions, and the incredible death-defying stunts that continue to wow movie goers across the globe. Enjoy tributes from Hollywood greats and go behind the scenes with exclusive footage from hit movies, including Rush Hour and Who Am I? Best of all, join Jackie in his 'stunt lab' as the star reveals the techniques behind his amazing action sequences. (72 / 97 Mins)
Views: Initially released in the UK as a two-parter on the Hong Kong Classics (M.I.A.) VHS label, I decided to cover these documentaries as one project as I usually watch them back-to-back and as presented on this Hong Kong Legends DVD. Written by Bey Logan and green-lit by Chan himself, both films are a hell of a fun watch for any Jackie Chan fan, with Jackie Chan: My Story marred only by its dated and stupidly animated sequences with god-awful neon hand-written fonts and transitions. On top of that, there's some poor music choices, poor sound recordings on interviews, and the ridiculously cheesy (and often rushed) narration by actor and television personalty, David Wu, who starred in many classics such as Tiger Cage 2, Robotrix, In The Line Of Duty 5: Middle Man, and more. If either of these things doesn't put you off in the first 5 minutes, then you are in for a fun ride, packed with revealing interviews with Jackie himself and other stars, as well as many great clips that show some of his finest work and best moments from his career up to that point!
Personally, I think Jackie Chan: My Story is a pretty basic production that's really only beefed up with film clips and a mix of interviews with the legend himself, Willie Chan, and Jackie's dad. Thankfully, Jackie Chan: My Stunts comes off a bit better! Although it just came out as the world of the internet was reaching more and more homes, and Jackie's own wonderful biography came out in hardback (I Am Jackie Chan), any real fan knows that there is so much more that could have fleshed this documentary out, to be more informative. For example, the Lo Wei years are pretty much just skipped over with a brief mention of his time spent with the director and no talk of the actual films themselves. The same can be said for what follows, skipping a number of Golden Harvest productions and stories from his time on the set to allow for more random cuts of interviews that sometimes – just don't fit in or make sense. Michelle Yeoh appears in the same interview clip that has been used in countless documentaries, which makes me think its the only interview she's ever done, and time is wasted on too many clips of US film producers and rappers having their say (and not even in an entertaining way), that takes away from fans getting more Chan time. It just comes across as a cheap and amateurish production at times...
Thankfully, the follow-up documentary proves to be a much better ride with bigger production values and more focus. David Wu is gone as the fast talking narrator and replaced with Michael Brown (and Tsui Man in the Cantonese version), as are the tacky animations and childish fonts. It watses no time in getting straight to it as we find Jackie and his stunt team on a town set, practising a fight scene before filming a take. This proves to be a much more exciting experience as Jackie directs Mars and his guys through their moves while explaining to the audience why certain styles and camera angles are used. We also get to watch in awe as Jackie demonstrates the fan, staff, and sword, spray blood over the cameraman, and show off his jumping skills, all while he reveals some secrets to his choreography as shots from classic kung-fu movies cut in between. I especially loved the fall demonstrations from his team, introducing clips of similar falls and stunts used in all his movies. Jackie then takes a bus tour around town where he talks about his work on Police Story 1 & 2 – while re-enacting the stunt that saw him hang off the side of the double-decker while hanging onto an umbrella. The same tour also takes him to the steep hills where he ran down to meet the bus. This time, and knowing his limits due to age and injuries, Jackie rolls a ball down to let us see just how steep it really was before talking us through the infamous bus scene that landed a few of his stuntmen in hospital. He next moves to the Tsim Sha Tsui Shopping Centre to walk through his big finale from Police Story. My husband and I (but mostly me) had the pleasure of visiting the same place when we stayed in Hong Kong just before the Covid 19 pandemic hit at the end of 2019. Our stunning hotel (The Royal Garden) was just facing the very same location, and although it had changed dramatically since the production of the incredible film, I still made sure I walked every inch of the place and climbed every escalator just to fulfill that mega-fan geek in me – and it felt great!
The doco soon moves to the set of Whoami? - where Jackie and hi steam are choreographing that great fight on the rooftop and Ron Smoorenberg pisses off the legend to no end as he messes up his moves over and over again. Eventually, he gets replaced by a number of the JC stunt team members including the great Andy Cheng and Brad Allen (who is half the size of Ron). It's a great behind the scenes look at the fun film which also includes a look at the car stunts in the city – which proved to be a lot of work for one scene in particular. But my favourite part of both Jackie Chan documentaries has to be the tour of his stunt lab where we get to see Jackie and his team play with wires, and give away more secrets. But its what is going on behind that catches my attention most, as walls are covered in original posters of JC movies, rare photographs, old props, cameras and more. Of course, its a fantastic insight to the workings of the team and it seems that Jackie is having a great time in the making. It all leads to an action-packed competition as the JC Stunt Team fight for the award of the Golden Elbow Pad, in a highly entertaining piece that packs in as many stunts, punches and kicks as they possibly can. Guns and pyrotechnics follow with Jackie re-enacting his explosive corridor run from City Hunter before we get a peek at his secret ideas wall – something I've taken on myself since becoming a director – and then a trip through the props department where he shows some fun examples of ideas worked into the choreography, showing off the creativity and fun the team must have when designing their fight scenes. A few fight scenes between team members follow, with each choreographed by Jackie and showing different takes after the scene to explain what works and what doesn't. It proves to be a great moment for Brad Allen to shine, who was one of the newest members of the team at the time of shooting after coming on board to work with Jackie on the brilliant, Mr. Nice Guy. It all wraps up on the set of Rush Hour, the box office smash that helped make the legend a household name all over the world, along with a personal word from Jackie as he signs off reminding people to be themselves and stay creative...
Jackie Chan: My Stunts is a much tidier production overall and definitely my favourite of the two. Although they are over a decade old now and we have since learned so much more from biographies and the internet, these documentaries prove to be a worthy watch for any JC fan and offer a great insight to the workings of Hong Kong's greatest movie star and his movies!
Overall: While My Story seems cheap and boring at times, My Stunts knocks things up a notch and proves to be a much more exciting and interesting watch!
JADE DAGGER NINJA
Original Title: Han Shan Fei Hu (aka) Shaolin Fox Conspiracy; Forest Duel
Directed by Li Chao Yung Produced by Joseph Lai, Fan Chien Kung Action by Wang Chi Sheng Starring: Roc Tien, Doris Lung, Tien Ho, Tsung Hua, Wang Hsieh, Nancy Yen, Fan Ling, Tien Yeh, Kam Kong, Shih Chung Tien, Yun Chung Yueh Reviewing: Hollywood East UK DVD Release Genres: Wuxia / Drama / Traditional Kung Fu
Rating - 3 / 5
DVD Synopsis: The only clue to a mysterious murder at a wedding ceremony, is a begonia – who left it and why sets the scene to a tale of fantastic magic and incredible fantasy which weaves itself round phenomenal swordplay and outrageous martial arts! It's colourful, it's fascinating, it's a trip! (90 Mins)
Views: This early 80s Taiwanese adventure offers somewhat of a confusing plot, depending on which version you were lucky enough to watch. Jade Dagger Ninja features no ninjas in the classic sense (or jade daggers at that) but revolves around a highly sought-after statue known as the Purple Jade Badger. Perhaps it was a title or matter that got lost in translation – or perhaps it was a simple fact that a film called the Jade Badger Ninja just wouldn't be as appealing. Also known as the Shaolin Fox Conspiracy, the film works its way around the upcoming wedding of Yu Long (Tien Ho) and Aurora (Doris Lung) who, while on a walk one day, gets attacked and is saved by The Flying Fox (Roc Tien). As Yu Long approaches, he gets a tad jealous of their newfound friendship – something that continues throughout as Aurora agrees to help The Flying Fox get help for the murder of his wife. One particular object can help – the Purple Jade Badger, a priceless statue that contains a magical elixir that grants those that drink it, invincibility. The statue lies in the hands of Governor Liu (Wang Hsieh), Aurora's father, and it doesn't take long for The Flying Fox to find out that he's not the only one after it. As more characters appear and rival clans clash, this tale of revenge and double-crossing soon comes to a close as The Flying Fox finds his wife's killer, albeit a little too late. With the Purple Jade Badger in his possession, killer Shen Wu Han quickly drinks the magical elixir and turns into a powerful demon, proving to be a much bigger threat for The Flying Fox than first imagined. It all leads to an action-packed showdown which is definitely the highlight of the film!
The DVD version of Jade Dagger Ninja isn't a terrible watch, but there is an uncut version of the film with its Shaolin Fox Conspiracy title, available on YouTube with about 60% of the film in glorious widescreen. If I'm honest, it actually makes for a better watch – although is still dubbed in English, and often hilariously at that. And its also because of this dubbing that I feel the film gets a little messier than it really is. Jade Dagger Ninja can come across as a less refined Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon although with a host of campy characters, pointless actions and situations, and melodramatic romances. Saying that, there are definitely some fun and innovative fight scenes throughout that just about save this from becoming one to completely avoid. This is all thanks to Wang Chi Sheng, an actor of over 100 films such as Snake And Crane Arts Of Shaolin, Fearless Hyena, Dragon Fist, Shaolin Vs Ninja, A Life Of Ninja, and the Alexander Lo Rei classics, Shaolin Vs Lama and Shaolin Chasity Kung Fu, of which he also helped choreograph. Sticking around on a number of Lo Rei projects, Wang also worked as the assistant director on the awesome Ninja Hunter and choreographed one of my favourite Leung Kar Yan kung-fu flicks, Demon Strike. While the fights aren't the greatest we've ever seen, they are well choreographed and fun to watch but Wang saves the best for last as Kam Kong cameos as the white haired demon, beating the living daylights out of everyone, smashing through walls with no effort at all, and flinging people around like rag-dolls.
The cast is pretty decent with the popular Roc Tien Peng in one of his last starring roles before retiring from the business with his last project and self-directed film, The Legend Of All Men Are Brothers, in 1984. The character of The Flying Fox is a character he has played many times, so brings nothing new to the role overall. The wonderful Doris Lung Chun Erh (Aurora) also delivers one of her last roles, stepping back from the camera the following year and only appearing in old footage from The Magnificent used in the IFD film, Kickboxer The Champion, in 1990 which was also combined with footage from The Left Hand Of Death. Taiwanese actor, Tien Ho, who had starred alongside Roc in a number of productions stars as Hao Yu Long, the fiancé of Aurora, and veteran actor Wang Hsieh stars as her father. Starting life in the industry in the late 1950s, Wang appeared in many classic titles from Taiwanese wuxia films to Shaw Brothers hits like Valley Of The Fangs, The 14 Amazons, Bamboo House Of Dolls, and Super Inframan, to many Alexander Lo Rei classics, and modern hits like A Better Tomorrow, Bloody Brotherhood, and Iron Angels. The film is directed by Li Chao Yung in what would be his last ever title, having also delivered the similarly themed (and cast) A Hero's Tears and Everlasting Chivalry, just a couple of years before...
Overall: As messy as many Taiwanese flicks were back then, Jade Dagger Ninja still proves to be a fun enough watch with its unintentional comedy and great fight scenes!
(China/Hong Kong 2019)
Original Title: Zhu Xian I
Directed by Tony Ching Siu Tung Produced by Li Ning Action by Tony Ching Siu Tung, Xin Xin Xiong Starring: Sean Xiao Zhan, Li Qin, Anthony Bao, David Chaing, Norman Tsui Siu Keung, Leung Kar Yan, Chen Hsiao Hsuan, Xin Xin Xiong, Cecilia Yip, Yi Xin Tang Reviewing: YouTube Release Genres: Wuxia / Fantasy / Romance
Rating - 3.3 / 5
Synopsis: After the massacre of his village, Zhang Xiaofan is taken in by the Qing Yun Sect where he begins his journey of cultivation. When he finds out the truth behind the deaths of his parents, he succumbs to his rage and demonic tendencies and becomes the enemy of Qing Yun Sect. (101 Mins)
Views: Based on an eight-part series of books by Chinese author Xiao Ding, this feature-length adaptation of the first chapter sees the return of the awesome Ching Siu Tung as director – his first since helming the fun, but poorly received Sorcerer And The White Snake with Jet Li in 2011 (which I actually enjoyed). Jade Dynasty tells the story of Xiaofan, an orphan who was adopted into the Qing Yun martial arts sect 10 years ago after the massacre of his family and village. His hope was to learn martial arts, but Xiaofan finds himself as the chef for his adopted brothers and sisters, as well as the butt of their jokes and actions. Secretly in love with the Sect leader's daughter, Xiaofan finds himself chased by many young ladies after he acquires the Soul Chasing Stick – obtained after being bitten by a cheeky monkey that caused his blood to mix with a mysterious bead he was given many moons ago. As his new magic stick seemingly has a mind of its own, Xiaofan soon finds himself in a number of predicaments and often with hilarious consequences. While potential lovers try to get their hands on the stick, Xiaofan is pushed into a kung-fu tournament where he wins by default after a little help from his new wooden soul mate. His win attracts the attention of the Demon King who sends out his demon fighters to steal the Soul Chasing Stick from the young orphan, which leads to an almighty battle of the martial world and leaves Xiaofan fighting demons of his own!
The gorgeous Sean Xiao Zhan from Chinese boy-band, X Nine, plays Zhang Xiaofan in a role that requires more comedy and emotion, than fighting. I can only imagine had this been made 25 or 30 years ago, we may have seen Andy Lau or Dicky Cheung in the role – and I guess we have in many similarly themed films from that era. The pop-star is joined by a host of young Chinese actors and actresses including Li Qin, Tang Yi Xin, Mei Qi Meng, and others, and while none of them are as characteristic or as memorable as their peers from yesteryear, they certainly aren't dreadful and get the job done. That said, idol Sean Xiao bagged himself the title of Most Disappointing Actor at the 2019 Golden Broom Awards (which are pretty much the Chinese equivalent of the Razzies), but I don't think he was that terrible to be honest. Having really only hit our screens since 2016, Xiao has appeared in television shows like The Untamed, Superstar Academy, The Wolf, and movies such as Monster Hunt 2, and the wonderfully fun action-comedy, The Rookies – released in the West as Deadly Force: Mission Budapest, where he starred alongside the handsome Talu Wang and Milla Jovovich herself. It was a treat to see legends of the jaded screen star as the elders of the Sect, regardless if they get to fight or not. These included Shaw Brothers stars David Chaing, Norman Tsui Siu Keung, and the wonderful Leung Kar Yan, as well as Anthony Bao, Cecilia Yip, and Xin Xin Xiong - who would also assist Ching Siu Tung with the action choreography.
And when it comes to the fighting, there isn't a lot to write home about unfortunately. I don't mean there is a lack of kung-fu or martial action, it's just not the explosive, hyper-kinetic Ching choreography that blew us away with the likes of the Swordsman Trilogy, Moon Warriors, Duel To The Death, Holy Weapon, and more. In fact, truth be told, Jade Dynasty carries its action more akin to that of Hero or House Of Flying Daggers (although not quite as spectacular) mixed with the fantastical elements from League Of Gods. But what else can you expect when you have a cast that have no martial arts (or very little) experience? It's certainly not dreadful by any means, but equally, it's hardly as memorable as Ching Siu Tung's aforementioned hits. There are plenty of great visual moments in regards to the action mind you, with moments that do hark back to his glory days with scenes of hundreds of warriors flying through the air on their swords, or miles of flowing material spinning to defend or control their person. It is beautiful, yet it just feels as if we have seen it all before. The demon fighters towards the end are probably the most exciting part of the action choreography, such as the puppet master (who I'd love to see a full film about if I'm honest), the fighter with spinning shields on his feet, and the invisible man who just sucks people into his clothing. The problem is that they don't get to stick around for too long, but being the first of a series of films, one can only hope that we may get to see a bit more of characters like this in future sequels...
Jade Dynasty is not a terrible film by any means, and does make for an enjoyable watch with its stunning visuals and decent use of CGI which includes an impressive Chinese dragon. If it was made in the early 90's, running alongside the likes of Kung Fu Cult Master or The Dragon Chronicles: The Maidens Of Heavenly Mountains for example, it may well have come off a little better for older fans of Hong Kong cinema, but perhaps the abundance of fantastical Chinese epics that keep coming out today hasn't helped. We all know what Ching Siu Tung can do and what he has given us in the past, but much like that of any top director that has been out of the picture a little too long, it's going to take a while to get warmed up again. Hopefully, Jade Dynasty has inspired him enough to keep pushing forward, and perhaps with that, we will get to see things progress in its sequels and Ching himself get back on top as a choreographer and director!
Overall: At times Jade Dynasty can be visually stunning and entertaining, but in knowing what Ching has done in the past, I was left a little underwhelmed!