Starring Collin Chou, Anthony Wong, Deng Chao, Lu Yi Fei, Ronald Cheng, Jiang Yi Yan, Cheng Tai Shen
Fight Choreography by Ku Huen Chiu
Directed by Gordon Chan
Gordon Chan is an interesting director. When he’s on, he’s ON. Fist of Legend. ON. King of Beggars. ON. Thunderbolt. ON. When Gordon’s off, though, Lord have mercy. The Medallion. OFF. The King of Fighters. WAY THE HELL OFF. I haven’t seen Painted Skin or Kung Fu Master so I can’t comment on them…yet. Now here comes Gordon again, with a film he wrote, produced and directed, a film that is part one of a planned trilogy of films. Can Gordon be ON again?
Oh yeah, Gordon flipped the switch to ON!
The film starts as we meet Leng Lingqi (Deng Chao), a member of Department Six, something akin to the FBI. Led by the Sheriff King (Cheng Tai Shen) they are the preeminent law enforcement agency, and on the eve that they welcome their first squad of female agents led by Ji Yaohua (Jiang Yi Yan), and her friend Butterfly, the Royal Treasury coin plates have been stolen, and without orders Leng Lingqi tracks down the assailant to a restaurant, but before he can apprehend him a series of events occur: The Sheriff King, having arrived at the restaurant with his men avoids an assassination attempt, meanwhile inside the thief of the plates suddenly finds himself trying to escape an extraordinary group of people led by Zhu Zhenwo (Wong): The wheel chair telepath/telekinetic Emotionless (Lu Yi Fei), The man who can control metals Iron Hands (Chou), and their newest member, the Tracker LifeSnatcher (Cheng) who can find anyone. Together they are the Divine Constabulary, working directly for the Emperor. On orders from Sheriff King, Leng Lingqi joins the Divine Constabulary to spy on them while they investigate the reason for the theft of the plates, which in the end will involve ancient Chinese magic and the undead! Leng Linqi, now called Coldblood, must decide where his allegiances truly lies. The fate of the crown rests upon it…
The film begins a little confusingly but settles down quickly for a good old wuxia version of the X-Men, which is not an insult. They do it rather well. Anthony Wong is right at home as the leader, an older man who has his reasons for bringing the group together, and is the calm voice amidst all the chaos that gathers around them. Deng Chao is pretty good as Coldblood, who really, due to his true abilities, comes off kind of bland in the beginning but settles down as the film progresses. Jiang Yi Yan does a great job a Ji, a woman conflicted with her feelings for Coldblood, and her duties. Lu Yi Fei is great as Emotionless, and really sells herself as a recluse who has problems with people for the very fact that she can read their minds and can spot the lies behind the words. Collin Chou is fine as Iron Hands but really doesn’t get much to do, except for some good fight scenes.
Ronald Cheng, to me, stole the show as the fearless and amoral Life Snatcher. You could tell he was having a great time playing this character. Life Snatcher comes off as a scoundrel who is there for the good wine, but he means it every step of the way, and that makes him a lot of fun when things get crazy. Wu Xiu Bo is fun as the main villain Ah Shigeng. The story overall is fun, not getting too serious and remembering that it’s a fun adventure film. There is one scene that features Anthony Wong doing something that the villain is like “DUDE, WTF!”. It’s rare to see the bad guy of a film surprised by anything a hero does, but in this scene he is, and it’s a hilarious moment. The film is very much in the vein of the X-men in regards to their powers, but it was so well done I didn’t care.
The effects work is fantastic. The CGI powers are great, especially the fire effects, and all of the fighting scenes, but not so much that it’s too intrusive. It’s a good mix of computer versus practical until the end, where the CGI threatens to go crazy, but doesn’t.
The fighting choreography is good, if not spectacular. There isn’t a lot of complexity, and there doesn’t need to be with all of the effect work surrounding the fights. Anything complex would get missed regardless, and I may very well have missed something. As it stands the choreography was exactly what it needed to be with people of such powers.
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8
A rollicking good Wuxia fantasy/superhero film that features great special effects and moments that could give any superhero film a run for its money! So when do we get Part Two?
This film will be released on Blu-Ray and DVD April 9th from the good folks at Well Go USA!