'Rise of the Legend' - Movie Review

There have been a lot of movies that star a character named Wong Fei-Hung. He's a folk hero of Chinese martial arts, and his father (who taught him) gets a lot of air time as well. Wong Fei-Hung has been played by Jet Li, Jackie Chan, and many others. Wong Kei-ying (his father) has been played perhaps most notably by Donnie Yen in "Iron Monkey." This time Wong Fei-Hung is played by Eddie Peng (who Wikipedia calls "a Taiwanese Canadian actor, singer and model." Note that "martial artist" isn't in that list, although he did reasonably well in that category. And apparently he's okay with doing wirework too. Wong Kei-ying is played by Tony Leung Ka-fai in flashbacks.

We first see Fei-hung trying to kill a gang leader - not for justice, but so his gang can control a neighbourhood. I don't think it's a spoiler (given that anyone who knows anything about Chinese martial arts movies knows Wong Fei-Hung is a hero, not a villain) to say that about 25 minutes in we find out he has other motives. He's rising through the ranks of the Black Tiger gang, run by Sammo Hung. But two of his childhood friends are members of the Orphan gang. (There are a lot of gangs in this movie.) They work together behind the scenes to clean up corruption in the city and bring down all the evil gangs. And we're also introduced to the childhood backstory, which sets up the awkward and unhappy love connections between our four good guys (conveniently two women, two men, none of whom love the ones that they can have). It's all supposed to be really deep and tragic, but it's mostly stupid and overly complex. The fighting is massively over-the-top and loaded with wirework - which I sometimes enjoy, but it didn't work for me this time.

High budget and well produced, but not a big success.