True Legend

True Legend
Everyone loves a good martial arts film (and lots of people like not very good ones too), whether it is entertaining Hollywood fare such as KARATE KID (the original of course), blockbusters such as THE MATRIX, or some of the more recent art house efforts such as CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON.

For pure athleticism you can't beat Bruce Lee, whose films still carry an 18 certificate, or new kid on the block Tony Jaa (ONG BAK), but these are true martial artists rather than actors. However, even real experts need to be choreographed for their movies, for practical reasons of shooting and editing, and one of the best known fight choreographers has to be Yuen Woo-Ping.

He is the guy who made Neo "know kung-fu" and gave Chow Yun-Fat his aerial skills. Despite his fame as an action director, he was already an established movie director, making 70s classics such as IRON MONKEY and DRUNKEN MASTER (with Jackie Chan). Now he has returned to the theme of drunk martial arts with his latest film as a director, TRUE LEGEND.

True Legend
Based on the story of Su Can, a famous warrior who turned down a reward to be a provincial governor in order to start a martial arts school and raise a family. He gives the position of governor to his adopted brother, and now brother-in-law, who returns later drunk with power and revenge over the death of his father.

A fight ensues and Su and his wife retreat to the mountains while their son remains his uncle's captive. Su becomes a drunk, while being taught the art of Wu Shu, by what may or may not be an imaginary sage and warrior god, before returning to the world rescue his son and seek justice. It's an epic and emotional story in the time-honoured tradition of Chinese legends.

On that level it is really a fairly stock-standard, high-budget martial arts movie we are used to seeing these days, filled with, frankly, annoying special effects laden scenes of "wire-fu". The drunken style fighting is not that commonly shown, which adds a little more interest, but it is not very pretty compared to well-executed karate or kung fu, nor as brutally raw as Muay Thai.

The costumes, set designs and overall production design are very good, as is the acting in places, including cameos from Michelle Yeoh and David Carradine.

True Legend
The big disappointment with this film is the inclusion of some totally unnecessary 3D scenes that have been included for the cinema release. Not only do you have to don the specs when a little icon appears on screen, which doesn't then tell you when to remove them, but it is the worst 3D I have ever seen. It makes the anaglyphic SPY KIDS 3D look like state of the art.

There is one fight sequence that looks like a very bad lenticular picture that was put together in the wrong order and out of register. What was a fairly reasonable movie to see in the cinema became one that cannot be recommended. It is out on DVD/Blu-ray/download on October 25, so unless you are desperate to see it on a big screen, wait to see it all in glorious 2D.

TRUE LEGEND is in cinemas from September 24

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