Black Mask: The Action

Choreographer / director Yuen Wu Ping and Jet Li have made several films together. Released in 1996, Black Mask had the most contemporary setting of any film they had made together up to that point in time. In Black Mask, Yuen has not constructed the dancelike choreography on Li that was a defining aesthetic of…

The Scavenger Aesthetic at work in Black Mask

“An emphasis on striking moments leads naturally to a scavenger aesthetic.” David Bordwell, commenting on Hong Kong films in Planet Hong Kong, p. 11 I found myself thinking of Bordwell’s quote when I watched Black Mask. I feel that this “scavenger aesthetic” is manifested and actually put to good use by this film’s constant referencing…

Black Mask

I am about to start posting blogs about Black Mask. This film was made in Hong Kong in the 1990s, was directed by Daniel Lee, produced by Tsui Hark (who was one of the writers as well), choreographed by Yuen Wu Ping, and stars Jet Li and Karen Mok. A full cast and crew list…

Great Quote No. 4

On Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: “One of the few critics to break ranks was Amy Taubin in the Village Voice, who, unlike her contemporaries, came to the film well versed in Hong Kong cinema, and she found the movie wanting. 'A rare blend of low and high art, Wong Kar-Wai's Ashes of Time radicalises the…

Fist of Legend – Choreography – Blog 3

This is the last installment of my blog about the action in Fist of Legend (choreographed by Yuen Wu ping). The previous installment dealt with the character of Funakoshi (played by Kurata Yasuaki), and his duel with Chen Zhen (played by Jet Li) in front of Huo Yuanjia’s tomb. Following on soon after the brilliant…

Fist of Legend – Choreography – Blog 2

This is the 2nd installment of an uber blog I have written about Yuen Wu Ping’s choreography in Fist of Legend. The first installment contained some introductory remarks about how important the choreography is in this movie and then focused on the character of the villainous General Fujita (played by Billy Chau). Veteran martial arts…

Fist of Legend – Choreography – Blog 1

Fist of Legend is chockablock with spectacular fight scenes. Choreographed by Yuen Wu Ping and starring Jet Li pitted against notable kung fu cinema screen fighters Chin Siu Ho, Kurata Yasuaki and Billy Chau, Legend is one of 8 or so movies Li and Yuen have worked on together. Some of their other collaborations, such…

Fist of Legend – drama versus kung fu

“Rarely has the division between the 'director' and 'martial arts director' created such a sense of two 'films' pulling in different directions. Gordon Chan's sober historical drama almost seems to edge towards a kung fu film where the hero realises that fighting cannot solve any of the conundrums about identity, loyalty and belonging that he…

Fist of Legend – the characters

The emotional complexity and depth of the characters is a strength of director Gordon Chan’s 1994 film Fist of Legend, and this is conveyed by action and dramatic scenes equally. These scenes combine to create a “fully developed political arena” in which “generic heroism” (1) (or lack of) is tested out by the film’s characters…

Fist of Legend – Upcoming Blogs

I am about to start posting a series of blogs about Fist of Legend (1994) – directed by Gordon Chan, choreographed by Yuen Wu Ping, and starring Jet Li, Chin Siu Ho, Kurata Yasuaki and Billy Chau. I don’t devote much space in my blogs to summarizing the plots of movies. Why bother when there…