- More dreams of China and a few comments of "Sino-centrism" 7/16/2002 12:00:00 AM by Fox in Socks
Another excellent entry into the series dealing with China coming to terms with foreign influence and an uncertain future, infused with romance, humour and some outstanding choreography. The well-drawn cast includes Dr Sun Yat-Sen which brings some historical credibility, but adds irony as well, since Dr Sun's idealism may have been misplaced. Oh yeah, its got some great fighting in it too...
I find previous accusations implying racism in this film to be misguided and deeply ignorant. The Wong Fei-Hung series highlights the historical turmoil felt in China from external trade interest and internal political pressure. Foreign characters are shown as both villainous and sympathetic (just like the Chinese characters). OUATIC II portrays the xenophobia of the White Lotus Cult as a Very Bad Thing, and the confusion at western objects and inventions varies from the hilarious train sequence to the superstitious fear of the camera. It's self-mockery, but it's bittersweet. If anything, Tsui Hark is implying a loss of innocence.
If the foreign powers are portrayed in a negative light, it's because our presence in China was motivated by greed and imperialism. Hardly the most noble of motives. But then nobody's perfect, and China's human rights record is less than great before and after the revolution.
I'm staggered that anyone could be so utterly stupid as to ascribe Nazi overtones to a film which goes so far to portray nobility, humanism and honour. Anyway, great film.
- Good introduction to 90's kung-fu movies. 12/17/1998 12:00:00 AM by qwazypoo
This is arguably the best of the 'Once Upon a Time in China' series (which now runs to 6). It stars Jet Li as martial arts master & doctor Wong Fei-Hong, a historical figure/legend popular in Hong Kong period pieces, much like Robin Hood or King Arthur in Western culture. It features some of the most exquisitely choreographed and executed fight scenes in any movie I've ever seen, utilizing two truly excellent martial artists/actors, Jet Li and Donnie Yen. And, almost as importantly, the level of absurdness and ridiculousness, so high in many HK movies, in the fights, humor, and story are kept to a reasonable level so western viewers won't be totally put off. In general, production quality is high, story is good/tolerable, and the fights are truly incredible showcases of the actors' abilities. It would be an excellent choice for the western movie-watcher trying to find more Jet Li films after seeing Lethal Weapon 4. It is also an excellent example of how in 20 years the 70's kung-fu chop-socky has evolved after it and Bruce Lee disappeared from the west.
- Yuen Woo Ping, Jet Li, and Donnie Yen are the best 3/15/2000 12:00:00 AM by drngor
What this movie lacks in volume it makes up for in weight. The fights scenes aren't as plenty as Tai Chi Master or Iron Monkey, but they rank with and above them. This movie tell the story of Wong Fei Hung dealing with the racist White Lotus cult who wish to drive the foreigners from China. Things are complicating by the arrival of Commander Lan (Donnie Yen) who is trying to crush a rebellion led by Dr. Sun Yat Sen. The movie drags in the middle but picks up with 3 fights that are among Jet Li's best. Donnie proves a worthy opponent in his two duels with Jet. A must see.
- As Good As A Sequel Can Get, Fantastic Stuff!, Almost As Good As The 1st 7/18/2005 12:00:00 AM by callanvass
This is as good as a sequel can get, fantastic stuff and almost as good as the 1st, if that's possible!. All the characters were fantastic again, and the fight choreography was simply incredible, plus i really dug the awesome character development again. The Story is is really awesome, and the fight scenes really blew me out of my seat, and the setting was really awesome, plus the finale is simply amazing!. It started off pretty slowly,but it was never boring, and The opening was very funny, plus Jet Li was simply amazing in this!. i really loved the added humor in this, as it had me chuckling, and while the story is not quite as powerful, it still packs quite a wallop and there are lots of great emotional moments, plus Jet and Rosamund Kwan had great chemistry once again!. This is as good as a sequel can get, fantastic stuff and almost as good as the 1st, and i say it's a must see at all costs!. The Direction is fantastic!. Hark Tsui does a fantastic job here, with some incredible camera work, amazing shots during the fight scenes, great angles, and lots of other amazing shots, plus he kept the film at an incredibly fast pace!. There is a bit of blood and violence. We get gory arrow hits,bloody corpses,knife in the leg, impaling in the neck, and lots of other gory impaling's. The Acting is excellent!. jet Li is AMAZING as always, and is amazing here, he is extremely likable, excellent in the acting department, had very good chemistry with Rosamund Kwan, kicked that ass, and added some great humor as well! (Jet Rules!). Rosamund Kwan is great here as the Aunt once again, although she has a lot less to do, she still was great. Xin Xin Xiongis great here and was pretty menacing. Siu Chung Mok is great as Foon and was very funny.Donnie Yen is AMAZING as General Lan, he was extremely menacing, is a brilliant martial artist, and had one of the best fight scenes ever with Jet! (Donnie Rules!). Ka-Kui Ho is good as Mak and added class Rest of the cast, are great. Overall a must see at all costs!. ***** out of 5
- The Godfather Part II of the 'China' series 6/26/2007 12:00:00 AM by veedragon40
When we last saw Wong Fei Hung (Jet Li), he emerged as a hero to his people in fighting against the invading foreign forces that were wreaking havoc in his hometown. By part 1's conclusion, he has also come to realize that his country is going through inevitable changes and that acceptance to western cultures is the best possible answer to the dilemmas.
Like Wong's change in view, part II shifts from its predecessor's themes of nationalism and self-strengthening to an exploration of cultural and ideological tolerance. With all that said, Once upon a time in China II is one of those rare sequels that manages to cast a shadow over its original and brings the franchise to a new height.
Li once again delivers a towering performance reprising his role as Wong. Although there's very little development to the character since the last time we met him, we are immediately won over the second he raises his first kick to the sound of the beautifully familiar score. Accompanied by Aunt 13 (Rosamund Kwan) and his mischievous student Leung Foon (Max Mok replacing Yuen Biu of the original), the trio travels to Canton only to find a town ravaged by chaos and violence. Instead of foreigners being the chief baddie this time, the White Lotus Sect and its zealous leader priest Kung (played wonderfully by Xiong Xin Xin) takes over as the story's primary antagonists. First introduced by a breathtaking prologue, they are portrayed as a fanatical cult bent on eradicating all foreigners and those that follow foreign ways, even going as far as murdering little children.
One of the film's most refreshing features, however, was the inclusion of a complex villain in the form of Donnie Yen's Charismatic Manchu military commander/imperial guard General Lan. Despite being pitted against our heroes, he is a man that is hard for the audience to despise when he's telling his men not to hurt civilians or having a brief heart to heart with Wong on their country's chaotic state.
Once upon a Time in China II is without a doubt the pinnacle of the series and quite possibly the career peak of everyone involved especially for one Tsui Hark. After this, it is the slow decline for the former new wave auteur who would attempt to dip his hands into mainstream Hollywood (only to stink up his CV with Double Team and Knock Off) before taking a stab at the recent trend of big budget wuxia epic only to come up with the woeful Seven Swords. If any of you were unfortunate enough to have seen those movies I've just mentioned, I can guarantee that Once upon a Time in China 2 is the perfect antidote for you.