Get your spurs and cowboy hats ready because Wong Fei Hung and his companions are saddling up and invading the Wild West in Once Upon A Time In China and America. America! Oh yeah! Don’t refresh your page. You read that right. The guy who has been trying his hardest to help China and rid of all those who do wrong in his native country is now doing all that “hero” stuff in the good old U.S. of A. I know weird right? Well, what do you expect from a Sammo Hung picture. Again, this IS the same Once Upon A Time In China film series so you aren’t reading this in a daze or drunk. Tsui Hark decides again to take a back seat and let loose his guns (no pun intended) so he can watch as the legendary Sammo Hung take over and do the dirty work for this sixth and eventual final installment of the film series that helped Jet Li put his foot on the floor of Hong Kong and later on worldwide super stardom. Sammo Hung, best known to many as that “big” guy who kicks major butt in martial arts films and starred alongside Jackie Chan and the vastly underrated Yuen Biao in films such as Project A and Wheels on Meals, is a legend when it comes to directing action. To some, he can be considered one of the greatest action directors of all time. Jet Li came back to the series in good hands. Did Jet Li’s persona and Sammo Hung’s direction mix well? Let’s find out!
Wong Fei Hung, 13th Aunt and Clubfoot trek to America to visit friend Bucktooth So, who has opened a Po Chi Lam clinic. They stumble upon Billy, dying of thirst and pick him up. Native Americans ambush them as they have lunch and an action scene ensues, leading to Wong, 13th Aunt and Clubfoot falling into a river which then has Wong hit his head and lose his memory (as you do when you hit your head on a rock). He gets picked up by a Native American tribe and believes to be a part of them. The Mayor of the town the companions have stopped at adopts rules so that lives for the Chinese people are as horrid and miserable as possible. Billy befriends the Chinese people there and helps protect them. Eventually Wong regains his memory and must help his fellow Chinese when the people in the Po Chi Lam clinic are framed for a bank robbery.
One big difference in this film is that Leung Foon is not seen or even mentioned so Clubfoot and Bucktooth So act as the comic relief and they actually fit the bill quite well. No reason is given as to why Leung Foon isn’t with them. I mean, you would’ve thought they could’ve said, ‘“Oh, he is minding my patients back home,”’ or ‘”He wanted to stay with my father and help him with his medical needs,”’ or something but no explanation whatsoever. The fights are impressive but not something that will make your jaw drop or make you laugh but definitely go back to the style of the first two so Sammo Hung does accomplish getting the action scenes back to its glory days so to speak. The music fits with the setting, having a country and western feel to it. The film has one of the best soundtracks of the entire series.
The best fight scene is the one where Wong has to fight Clubfoot because Clubfoot is trying to help Wong regain his memory and during this scene there is a call back to the second film which was really cool to see. While there are some acting moments that are a bit awkward and just plain lazy, the film is a pretty good action film and the guy who played Billy, Jeff Wolfe, is one of the highlights of the film. To me, Billy wasn’t an annoying character that he could’ve easily been but he is one of the things that makes this film stand out in a positive light so congratulations Sammo on making him a joy to watch on screen. The first two in this series will always be considered the best and for good reason but this film is a fitting conclusion to the series and it definitely ended on a high note.