True Legend Review

Yuen Woo-ping, martial arts choreographer extraordinaire, directs True Legend, a movie which probably got a boost because of Yuen’s reputation for creating ridiculously complex fight scenes.

With a name like True Legend, I expected something epic and grandiose with a lot of brilliantly crafted action. I was persuaded to watch the movie based on reviews, and now it’s my turn to give an opinion — is this movie legendary or imposter?

General Su Can (Man Cheuk Chiu), a Qing Dynasty warrior, doesn’t mess around. When he’s not saving political figures or rejecting promotions, he’s taking care of his family.

He’s the kind of guy others look up to — men want to be him, and women want to be with him.

It’s enough to make Yuan Lie (Andy On), his adopted brother turned rival, into an obsessed monster. While Su prepares to celebrate his father’s birthday, Yuan returns home to enact revenge — turns out Yuan’s father, an evil practitioner of the martial arts technique The Five Venoms, was killed by Su’s father.

Su’s family is split apart as Yuan emerges victorious from a battle that sends Su and his wife downriver and defeated. Yuan takes Su’s son away, leaving the broken Su with the burden of rescuing his son from a powerful foe.

Despite making a grand effort, True Legend would have been more worthy of its title if it didn’t feel so cliche. When Su crumbles under the pressure of having to recuperate and retrain, it feels familiar because it’s been done before and better.

Dramatic scenes feel like exercises in melodrama — they seem forced and contrived.

Action scenes are typical of what one would expect from Yuen, excellent and amazing, but there’s a sense of restraint.

Though it feels like these characters are actually hitting each other, the level of action doesn’t rise high enough. It’s almost disappointing despite what’s already there — the problem is that the action doesn’t elevate; it doesn’t go from yelling to blood-curdling scream. Maybe the action seems too realistic — the brawling and beatings are framed within some pretty fantastic elements that stretch reality. This is, after all, a movie whose main villain has actually stitched armor onto himself.

Add to that the movie’s biggest problem — a second act which doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie. It’s like two completely different movies were edited together.

Just when I thought the movie was over, it continued along further muddying up what had been something above average. 

True Legend doesn’t hit the high notes. It’s a song with a lot of auto-tune, a movie with potential that needed some extra work.

It should have been called A for Effort.

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