Beggar So is army general, but gives up the position for family life. Beggar So gives all his status to his adopted brother and lived a life of an ordinary person. Until one day, Andy On returns home and killed Zhao’s father in avenging On’s own nemesis. The result is Beggar So escaping alive with his wife waiting for an opportunity to strike back. True Legend was, according to director Yuen Wo Ping, supposed to be a return to authenticity in martial arts films. I can say with confidence that he has fulfilled that quote faithfully by providing some exceptional work. This is what Yuen Woo-ping excels at, using expert wirework to keep his leads fighting in a seemingly impossible live action setting.
The film is divided into two strange parts: the endless first hour describes how Su became Beggar Su. The story line is actually very consuming once you become endeared by the characters, whom I might add are supremely crafted. The second part however turned out to be a rehash of Fearless and whichever film that had been set in the Chinese era of the onslaught of foreign powers, and an arena is used to settle differences. The film moves along a fairly straight path, with a few twists thrown in here and there. In the final act, however, things really pick up. It’s been a long while since Yuen Woo Ping helmed a film as a director and it is good to see him excel again.
All in all, True Legend is a welcome additional to modern day HK martial arts cinema. But it’s the supporting cast of a notable who’s who in the Chinese martial arts arena, that had me excited. Imagine having the likes of Gordon Liu, the late David Carradine and Michelle Yeoh all in one film! It was almost a Kill Bill reunion of sorts. The music is filled with Chinese violins trying to inspire some emotion, but only managing exasperation. I would have to say this was one of the weaker elements of the film.
True Legend is basically every martial arts film ever made, from Five Deadly Venoms to Drunken Master, all rolled up into a big budget, blockbuster kick-ass fest of fists and feet from beginning to end. It’s a classic revenge story, with cliche characters, yet director Yuen Woo Ping is obviously in top form. I really liked the epic feel of this film as well as the different slant it takes towards the end when David Carradine and company come into the story. It is one of the best Asian films I have seen in a while. This movie is everything you’d expect from Woo Ping, including that extra little thing he puts in each movie that you’ve never quite seen before. Overall, an awesome martial art movie experience.