Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (2010)

Reviewed by Michael Lauck
July 5, 2011

Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen
Donnie Yen • Shu Qi • Anthony Wong • Huang Bo • Yasuaki Kurata • Zhou Yang
Fist of Fury: The Legend of Chen Zhen • The Legend of Chen Zhen • Chen Zhen The Nocturnal Hero
Andrew Lau
Donnie Yen • Yan Hua • Tanigaki Kenji
106 Minutes
Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 Color
ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 • ENGLISH: Dolby Digital Stereo • MANDARIN: Dolby Digital 5.1 • MANDARIN: Dolby Digital Stereo
Trailers • Behind the Scenes
Well Go USA
1 – NTSC
Purchase & Info
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A sequel to the earlier Fist of Fury TV show, Chen Zhen (Donnie Yen) returns to China after fighting in World War One using the name of a dead comrade. By impressing important Shanghai night club owner (and mobster) Liu Yutian (Anthony Wong) he positions himself to work clandestinely against the growing Japanese influence. Using the masked costume of a movie hero he fights a very public war against the Japanese while romancing night club singer Kiki (Shu Qi) and making a deadly enemy in the form of Colonel Chikaraishi Takeshi, the new head of the dojo where Chen Zhen faced the Japanese responsible for his teacher’s death years before…
thoughts on the movie

Andrew Lau directs Donnie Yen and Anthony Wong in a lavish pre-WWII Shanghai period piece? Sounds incredible! Unfortunately, things that sound too good to be true often are and this film is no exception. It isn’t terrible, but it is uneven and full of anachronisms and troubling gaps in the timeline. Perhaps seeing the original series would have helped and I, like most US viewers, have not had a chance to view the 1995 series. Little is mentioned of the time between the end of World War I and the action of the film, which should have been at least seven or so years if the time I thought I noticed (1925) is correct. If so, there are several problems with the bulk of costumes and music being inspired by the 1930s… if it was set in the ’30s then the gap between the end of WWI and the film is even more trou bling. The movie is also extremely clumsy in its Chinese nationalism; it is a subject that can’t be avoided, of course, given the main character. This does not mean that it needs to be done in a cartoonish or overly simplistic ways Lau chose. For example, there are complaints that China’s contribution of 150,000 non-combatant workers to the Allied WWI were largely ignored but fails to mention that this is a rather small number compared to the combined Allied forces of over 40 million! All in all, the troubled, simplistic story can’t be saved by the action, particularly when the final fight is a needless rehash (tribute?) to the fight in the original Bruce Lee film.

was it funny?
Although there is a small joke or two, by and large this is a serious film.
How was the Action?
Most of the fights are well done. The initial fight on a World War I battlefield is kind of silly but the action picks up after Chen Zhen adopts his Kato-like disguise and wars with the Japanese.
Standout performance(s)

Even though the film centers of Donnie Yen and the cast includes the brilliant Anthony Wong, Shu Qi often steals the shows as nightclub singer and possible traitor Kiki.

Buy or Pass
6 Reasons Why You Should BUY or PASS On This Movie
1. BUY for big budget Andrew Lau production starring Donnie Yen and Anthony Wong
2. BUY for continuing the adventures of Chen Zhen
3. BUY – you can get the Blu Ray for less the $20
4. PASS because it’s kind of a jumbled mess of history, even for an action movie
5. PASS because there is too much flag waving for the sake of flag waving, even given the story of Chen Zhen
6. PASS because Netflix has it so you don’t have to buy it just to see it

There are multiple releases of this (single disk, multiple disks, etc); I watched the standard def DVD from Netflix so I am unsure of the quality and/or value of the extended special features found on some versions.