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Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (BluRay) 
Written by: on June 21st, 2011


Theatrical Release Date: China / Hong Kong, 2010
Director: Wai-keung Lau (Andrew Lau)
Writer: Gordon Chan
Cast: Donnie Yen, Shu Qi, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Shawn Yue, Yasuaki Kurata, Siyan Huo

BluRay released: June 14th, 2011
Approximate running time:
106 minutes
Aspect Ratio:
2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive

Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Mandarin, Dolby Digital Stereo Mandarin, Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo English
Subtitles: English
BluRay Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $32.98


Synopsis: Seven years after his death, Chen Zhen resurfaces in Japanese-occupied Shanghai under an assumed identity. Shortly after his arrival in Shanghai, Chen Zhen forges a business partnership with an underworld crime boss who owns a night club. Chen Zhen uses his new position at this night club to spy on the Japanese soldiers and their sympathizers, who frequent this night club. At first he tries to keep a low profile, until one day when he is thrust into the spotlight after putting on a mask and dressing up like a super hero. With this new persona, Chen Zhen quickly becomes a folk hero and this enrages the Japanese, who put out a hit list of Chinese citizen’s that pose a threat to their plans of occupying all of China.
 
Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen was directed by Wai-keung Lau (The Storm Riders), who is most known for directing the Internal Affairs trilogy (which would later be remade by Martin Scorsese in America as The Departed). Wai-keung Lau would also serve as co-cinematographer on Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen. Some of his other notable film’s as a cinematographer include City on Fire, As Tears Go By and Chungking Express.

Chen Zhen is a fictional Chinese folk lore hero  that was created by screenwriter Ni Kuang. The character first appeared on screen in the 1972 film Fists of Fury. Which starred Bruce Lee in the role of Chen Zhen. Over the years there have been numerous T.V. adaptations of have been based on this character and in 1994 Jet Li would star in a remake of Fists of Fury, titled Fist of Legend. Before starring in Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen in the role of Chen Zhen, Donnie Yen fifteen years before had already taken on this character in a T.V. series titled ‘Fists of Fury’.

Though this film is clearly built up around its star Donnie Yen, who is most known for his martial arts films like Iron Monkey and the IP Man films. It quickly becomes apparent that this film is more concerned about Chinese nationalism and that the action sequences are treated like background fodder. With that being said, the action sequences are without a doubt the most entertaining aspect of this production. Especially the film’s finale where Donnie Yen’s character Chen Zhen does his best Bruce Lee impersonation.

From a narrative stand point the film lacks cohesion and just when it appears that things might actually be going somewhere, the narrative goes off on another tangent. Another short coming of this production are the one dimensional characters, who motivations are often clouded in vagueness. So much of what occurs in this film just falls into place and feels forced.

From a casting standpoint this film features many recognizable faces like Anthony Wong (Ebola Syndrome), Shu Qi (So Close) and Yasuaki Kurata (‘Fight! Dragon’). And yet all of their talents are woefully underused. And while the performances are generally a letdown, none are as disappointing as Donnie Yen’s in the role of Chen Zhen. During the more dramatic moments he fails to deliver the same level of intensity that he does during the more action oriented sequences.

The BluRay:

Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Black levels look consistently good throughout, there are no problems with compression and DNR is kept to a minimum. Though details generally look crisp, there are a handful of moments in which the image looks too soft. Colors look accurate and at times vivid. Flesh tones on the other hand are inconsistent with a few occasions in which they look orange.

This release comes with four audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Mandarin, a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Mandarin, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in English. There are no major issues with any of the four audio mixes as they all sound clean, clear and balanced throughout. Also they all do a superb job with the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack. With the more action oriented moments benefiting most from these audio mixes. It should be noted that this film’s native language Cantonese has not been included with this release. Also included with this release are English subtitles that are easy to follow and error free.

Extras for this release are spread over two discs. Extras on disc one (a dual layer BluRay) the International trailer for the film (1 minute 11 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles), a theatrical trailer for the film (2 minutes 18 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles) and two behind the scenes segments, the first one titled ‘Warzone’ (7 minutes 58 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles) and the second one titled ‘Casablanca’ (9 minutes 34 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles).

Also included with this release are trailers for other titles also available on DVD and BluRay from Well Go USA.

Extras on disc two (a dual layer DVD) six behind the scenes segments, ‘Tianjin Street’ (3 minutes 33 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles), ‘Market Place’ (5 minutes 30 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles), ‘Newspaper Office’ (3 minutes 19 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles), ‘Japanese Headquarters’ (3 minutes 14 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles), ‘Student Movement’ (3 minutes 48 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles) and ‘Hongkou Dojo’ (11 minutes 3 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles). Also included on disc two are interviews with director Andrew Lau (16 minutes 7 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles), actors Donnie Yen (9 minutes 23 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles), Gordon Chan (1 minute 43 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles), Anthony Wong (2 minutes 58 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles), Huang Bo (5 minutes 16 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles), Kohata Ryuichi (3 minutes 58 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles) and actress Shu Qi (9 minutes 44 seconds – letterboxed widescreen, in Mandarin with English subtitles). Though the extras are not as exhaustive as they could have been, at least there is a wealth of onset footage and the interviews with cast & crew provide some interesting information about this production. Overall Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen gets a good release from Well Go USA.

Note: Well Go USA are also releasing Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen on DVD and as a DVD / BluRay combo.

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