Tuesday, July 19, 2011

“WU XIA” 武侠 Movie Review. FILM NOIR where OLD SCHOOL challenges the NEW.


“WU XIA” is a magnificent piece of film noir by celebrated director PETER CHAN.

Make no bones about it.

The CASTING is a stirring potpourri of finesse, skilfully blending a splash of retro actors to challenge the new, to render us one of the more watchable martial arts films in recent years.

Trudge memory lane, folks.

Behold taut action entertainment laced with doses of ancient wisdom aplenty.

An overflow of didacticism can sometimes be tiresome though.

DONNIE YEN treads precariously between the old and new school. He has spent more than two decades as an actor and it is in recent years that his star is finally shining extremely bright.

JIMMY WANG YU (the supreme one-armed swordsman of the hazy 60s) astounds in a ferocious cameo come-back and is a force to be reckoned with.

In truth, he is a forgotten hero and it’s a welcome respite to see him dominates the giant screen again.

Apart from his aging, he is otherwise in true form, excelling in what he was known best, as a formidable martial arts artiste.

Then there is the lovely, evergreen KARA HUI who can give the younger actors a run for their money. This dame can surely fight.

In the background and no less insignificant are TAKESHI KANESHIRO and TANG WEI taking much of the screen time.

The list goes on.

The plot takes you through the throes of the late Qing dynasty.

DONNIE YEN is in the role of Liu Jin Xi, an amicable paper maker who’s content with an idyllic life of peace in a small town. This man hides a secret identity.

His family unit comprises of his loyal wife Liu Ayu (TANG WEI) and two adorable children.

It appears that their happiness is short-lived.

Along comes an adversary in the form of a nosy detective cum part time acupuncture expert called Xu Bai Jiu (TAKESHI KANESHIRO) who’s bent on uncovering Liu’s past life as Tang Long, a dangerous butcher.

“WU XIA” dramatizes a cat-and-mouse battle of wits between the two men – one shying away from a past that is best forgotten, and the other determined to dig dirt and drag him back to justice.

In part a martial arts action movie, it is by large, a heart-wrenching drama showcasing the emotional prowess and grit of the two male leads.

PETER CHAN is in his element when it comes to remarkable film making in its finest form.

He is not into mindless fight sequences and is adept at weaving the intellectual emotivity into the film’s dramatic highlights.

However, it is Yen’s action choreography that carries the pulse of this movie to demonstrate the awesome splendor of WU XIA.

Compelling performances from an all star cast ensures a cutting edge entertainment that can only arrive at our shores once in a long while.

The start may be a tad draggy with the pow wow action coming in after the first half.

Cinematography, jointly by LIU YIU-FAI and JAKE POLLOCK, is captivating and impressive.

The duo manages to give the take and mood of each scene a powerful dose of poetic rhythm.

“WU XIA” is, by and large, a long anticipated martial arts feature that is definitely worth waiting for.

Go get charmed

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