Legend of the Fist: Return of Chen Zhen is one solid martial arts movie, part Batman, part Green Hornet, part martial arts movie and part historical movie (in the broadest sense) as well. This movie is the successor to the television series Fist of Fury, with Donnie Yen reprising the role played by Bruce Lee in the 1972 martial arts film Fist of Fury.
Donnie Yen is the main protagonist, Chen Zhen. Qi Shu stars as Kiki, Zhen’s girlfriend. Anthony Wong plays Liu Yutian, the owner of the Casablanca night club in Shanghai. Huang Bo stars as Huang Haolong, the police inspector. Shawn Yue stars as General Zheng, the northern warlord who Chen Zhen saves from assassins long ago. Huo Siyan stars as Weiwei, Zheng’s girlfriend. Ma Yue plays General Zhuo, Zheng’s rival, and Ma Su plays his wife. The main antagonist of the film is Japanese Colonel Chikaraishi Takeshi. His father was killed by Chen Zhen years ago.
Seven years after the apparent death of Chen Zhen, before the Second Sino-Japanese War, Chen joins a group of Chinese men to fight the Germans during the first World War. After the battle, Chen returns to Shanghai, China to find it occupied by the Japanese. Taking on a disguise, he battles the mafia, only to find them aligned with the Japanese. The Japanese are led by Colonel Chikaraishi Takeshi who doesn’t take kindly to the Chinese resistance, and he ultimately retaliates harshly. As the Japanese push the Chinese to the brink, Chen Zhen finally steps in to confront the Colonel in a final showdown.
Again, we find Donnie Yen in a familiar plot, fighting against the Japanese in China. He fought Miura in Ip Man, and now he’s fighting Chikaraishi Takeshi, another practitioner of the Japanese martial arts. But this time, Donnie Yen dons a costume and finally Bruce Lee’s uniform at the end.
Majority of the action sequences were quite good. The fight in the printing press room was great although quite fast. Donnie Yen showed elements of Wing Chun as he fought each that opposed him with the ability to adapt to the environment much like Jackie Chan.
The last fight scene was supposed to be the greatest, but it lacked the impact of Ip Man‘s final fight with Miura. The scene was too lengthy and tried to add too much. In other words, the scene was a bit over-saturated perhaps. Donnie Yen’s imitation of Bruce Lee in that scene was fantastic though, as he imitated Bruce Lee’s poses almost perfectly.
Verdict (Out of 10)
I won’t be quite as harsh as some of the other critics out there, as I quite enjoyed the film myself. It wasn’t traditional Donnie Yen territory as it leaned toward material of Jet Li. The martial arts scenes were entertaining although sometimes a bit much. Overall, it was an 8 out of 10 for me although this movie was not without its flaws.