Archive for the To Yu-Hang (Dennis To) Category

Review: Wu Dang (2012)

Posted in Corey Yuen, Fan Siu Wong (Louis Fan), To Yu-Hang (Dennis To), Vincent Zhao with tags , , on December 19, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Vincent Zhao, Yang Mi, Fan Sui-Wong (Louis Fan), Josie Xu, Dennis To

Fight Choreography by Corey Yuen

Directed by Patrick Leung

Wu Dang is another attempt at trying to merge mystical kung fu with Indiana Jones-style adventures. The last really lame attempt was Jet Li’s Dr Wai in the Scripture with No Words, and that would be enough trepidation with this film. Add to that Vincent Zhao, who’s been embroiled in a scandal involving diva behavior on the set of a recent Donnie Yen film, and of course fight choreographer Corey “slummin’ it in the USA” Yuen, and no one could be blamed for taking a cautious approach to watching this film.

So I’ll tell you right now: Have no fear, it’s terrific.

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Wu Dang centers around Professor Tang (Zhao) and his teenage daughter Tangning (Xu), who are on a quest to get to Wu Dang mountain, by entering a tournament that Tang is sponsoring, in and effort to search the mountain for the Seven Treasures of Wu Dang. Things get complicated as a thief named Tianxin (Mi) searched for one of the treasures, a sword that belongs to her family. On the way there Tangning meets a man named Shui Heyi (Fan), who is trying to become a Taoist monk to try to care for his mother, and a strange friendship forms between them. Tang and Tianxin form an uneasy alliance in order to get the treasures, but beyond the dangers of that is the threat from a man whom Tang steals a map from, and the head monk Bailong (To) who is more than what he seems…

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Wu Dang, or “How Corey Yuen Got His Groove Back” is a thrilling adventure film that does a great job telling this story and weaving enough emotional content to the fights to get us to care about the characters and what happens to them. The film paces everything well, and the effects work is nothing short of fantastic. My only issue in regards to the story is that one character’s story arc remained unresolved by the end. which makes it maddening, but not so much as to ruin the film.

Zhao plays Tang with great intelligence and bravery, and vulnerability when the true nature of his search for the treasures are revealed. Tangning has good chemistry with Fan Sui-Wong , as both of them spend most of their screen time together, and Yang Mi has the same with Zhao, without which the movie would fail. Dennis To shows a lot of range as he plays the main villain, something very different from his part in The Legend is Born: Ip Man. Patrick Leung really captures some gorgeous shots of the mountain itself, and of all of the fights. The cinematography is truly something great here.

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Corey Yuen does his best work in many a year here. The wirework is flawless, and integrates itself into this world without being obtrusive, and the fight escalate at a good pace, and the cinematography really captures Corey’s work, particularly in the fight between Zhao and the swords women on the bridge, and Josie Xu’s fight with Sui Wong Fan during the tournament, which is a great display of how storytelling can work within a fight itself, as both characters come to a realization during the fight that drives the most emotional parts of the story home. It’s also the most beautiful sequence  in the entire film, and both Fan and Xu pull it off (If they ever make another Tekken film Xu has got to play Lin Xiaoyu).

Wu Dang represents a great return to form for Corey Yuen and a great performance by Vincent Zhao, and it all comes in service of a good story.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9

Vincent Zhao and company deliver a fun, involving kung-fu film that features some of  the best fight choreography Corey Yuen has done in quite some time.

NEXT:  Gordon Liu is an evil bastard in Kill ’Em All!

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Review: The Legend is Born: Ip Man (2010)

Posted in Fan Siu Wong (Louis Fan), Sammo Hung, To Yu-Hang (Dennis To), Yuen Biao with tags , on September 6, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring To Yu-Hang (Dennis To), Fan Siu Wong (Louis Fan), Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Rose Chan, Ip Chun

Fight Choreography by Tang Tai Wo and Kam Loi Kwan

Directed by Herman Yau

After Donnie Yen had a ton of success with the Ip Man series, Ip man has become what Wong Fei-Hung was: the subject of a ton of films. Some good, some bad, but the character, based on the real man, has ingrained itself into Hong Kong cinema, and now, with quite a few films in various stages of production, Ip Man is going the same direction as well, but there is a danger as Donnie Yen’s series is damn good, with a third official sequel on the way, and is a hard act to follow, and here we have a film that traces Ip Man’s life before the events of the Donnie Yen and Wilson Yip classic. Does the early story of Ip Man hold up compared to Yen’s version? In many ways it does.

The film stars To Yu-Hang as Ip Man, who, as a young boy along with his adopted brother Ip Tin-Chi (Fan), are brought by their father, a wealthy businessman, to learn Wing Chun kung-fu from Sifu Chan Wah Shun (Hung) and his senior Ng Chung (Biao), and both boys befriend a fellow female student  Lee Mei Wai (Chan). Tragedy strikes early as Sifu Chan Wah Shun dies suddenly, leaving the school to Ng Chung, who is told by Wah Shun to pay special care to Ip Man’s training as he is a natural. They grow up together within the school, and Ip Tin-Chi falls in love with her, but she’s in love with Ip Man, who seems as if he might reciprocate until he meets Cheung Wing Shing, daughter of the town mayor of Foshan. Ip Man doesn’t have time for romance as he goes off to college in Hong Kong. Time passes, and Ip Man, after a confrontation with a douchebag whom he shows the finer points of Wing Chun, meet Leung Bik (Ip Chun) who came from the same Wing Chun school as Wah Shun but was left because of his unorthodox style of Wing Chun. While Ip Man learns from Bik, Ip Tin-Chi becomes a successful businessman himself with the Wing Chun Martial Arts Association, and Ip Man returns home and resumes his romance with Cheung Wing Shing, but little does he know that the Japanese who have come to Foshan for business mean to do a lot more, and threaten everything that Ip Man holds dear, but there are other secrets that could destroy him as well…

This film, while not connected to the Donnie Yen version, echoes quite a bit of it to the point that they may as well be connected. The camera work as well as the story pacing is very reminiscent of the other series. Herman Yau does a good job with telling his story, even if that story is a bit far fetched. I don’t know much of Ip Man’s real life, but I doubt he fought the Japanese THAT much. The other item that bothered me was what I’ll call the big twist in the story, that comes after the midpoint. I didn’t know what to make of it, even though there are hints that are laid earlier in the film, but once certain events started happened, I had guessed what the twist was, but the twist just felt too…operatic for a story like this. The performances are good , led by To Yu Hang, who does a good job as the young Ip Man, balancing badassness with inexperience. Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao were great onscreen together as they always are, and it’s a treat we should appreciate as we don’t know how many more times we’ll see those guys together on screen. Fan Sui-Wong was fantastic and had a good chemistry with both Yu Hang and Rose Chan, who was good, but her character just annoyed me with her crappy attitude (She turned into a hater, whom as we all know, is gonna hate) to no end, making it hard to be sympathetic with her as events unfold. The introduction of Leung Bik was a treat, played by Ip Man’s real son Ip Chun. He even has a fight scene with To Yu-Hang which was fun as well, and the training sequence was also well done and entertaining (are training sequences making a comeback? I hope so!) .

The fights are good, particularly the fight with Ip Chun and Yu-Hang, which shows off a lot of traditional Wing Chun, and the fight where Yuen Biao takes on a group of assassins (Biao’s still got it!), and any of the fights involving Fan Siu Wong. The fight between Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung brings back fond memories of their younger selves, which is a treat for fans of their 80’s work. The choreography (thankfully) wasn’t what’s been coming out of Hong Kong in recent years (anything by Donnie Yen excluded) and was well done with a little wire work here and there, but not much. The climax fight between Ip Man and Ip Tin-Chi was fantastic, and Wing Chun here, as with the entire film, is every bit as well done as the Donnie Yen series.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) The fights were well shot and choreographed in the Wing Chun styles, and are every bit as exciting as the Donnie Yen films. One could say they are too close to that series, but as the overall film may as well have been an official prequel, that’s ok.

STUNT WORK: (8) Some wire work was done, but what little there was didn’t distract from the fights. The stuntmen did a good job with the falls, particularly those falls through furniture.

STAR POWER: (9) Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, rising star Rose Chan, and Fan Sui Wong speak for themselves, and hopefully we will see more of To Yu-Hang. Don’t forget Ip Chun was a treat to see.

FINAL GRADE: (8) A well made film that tells the fictional beginning of Ip Man, with a good cast and great fights that show off the style of Wing Chun.

NEXT: Lo Lieh is out to kick all kinds of ass in King Boxer (Five Fingers of Death)!

 

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