in Chinese fantasy wuxia (meaning “martial arts heroes”) is a genre defined as containing stories based on ancient warriors from China, and mixing elements of history, politics, and romance.
in recent decades, wuxia Stories that have stood the test of time have been adapted into TV series and movies. One of Louis Cha’s most popular and intense novels is Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils from the early 1960s.
next movie HellDirected, co-produced and starring Donnie Yen – will focus on one of the novel’s three main protagonists, the folk hero Qiao Feng (played by Yen).
In the two-hour film, Feng – the leader of the Beggars Sect – is knocked out when he is accused of several murders, and reveals that his ancestors are Khitan at a time when the Song Empire led by Han China was fighting against the Liao Empire in Khitan.
Forced to leave the sect, Feng searches for the truth behind the murders. At the same time, he falls in love with Azhu (Chen Yuqi).
The original novel is said to have nearly 1,000 characters in length and is made up of several volumes. It was a titanic task to condense and trim it to a 130-minute movie, and for the most part, it does a decent job of telling a coherent story, without the terrible English translation and Bahasa Malaysia.
so he said, Hell It’s easy to understand just by following what’s going on on the screen.
Yen and the rest of the cast work really well together, particularly him and Yuki, who most of the movie’s “humanity” revolves around. While they are definitely the heart of the movie and they both have chemistry with each other, the romance feels stumbled or not conveyed clearly.
Love can be seen but not felt. This is largely due to HellThe film’s script plays with many different elements, while at the same time trying to be the vehicle for another of Lin’s action films, as well as the start of the franchise.
For films that adapt classic wuxia stories, the high fantasy plot is accompanied by beautiful choreography that showcases various Chinese martial arts.
We’ve seen this in something as old as Ang Lee’s classic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and more recently as Hou Hsiao-hsien the killer.
The choreography and stunts are often done with wires that allow actors and stuntmen to fight and engage in martial arts by seemingly ‘floating’ in and through the air. Where she looked normal in those movies, at Hellbecome comical.
In fact, almost everything is comical.
Yen abandons the largely hands-on action movie-making of his earlier films and goes wild with “high fantasy”.
As Qiao Feng, he breaks all the rules of attraction. Every time he hops at an angle anywhere, he launches himself into orbit. Feng also primarily uses two modes of transportation throughout the film; Riding, running and jumping across rooftops.
When the latter happens, the camera locks on Feng for several seconds. Nothing else happens. Yen literally jumps across the rooftops. This happens a lot.
And then, there’s the “magic”.
Very early in the movie, Feng demonstrates his ability to ‘Eighteen Subduing Dragon Palms’, a fictional martial arts system that allows him to do things without actually doing anything. it’s a HellCopy of the push force of star Wars or airbending symbol picture Fees.
As much as I love “magic” in the movies, Hell It is advertised as a martial arts movie and Yen is a real martial artist. So why is the final battle at the height of a big, noisy CGI mayhem with Feng and a secret evil force pushing each other into sticks and sand like the third act of a Marvel movie?
Although it adapts modernism, and strays from classic storytelling and filmmaking, Yen Hell Dare to be different and, in a way, make it unique.
Hell It is currently showing in local cinemas.