Wu Xia (2011)
The cinematography is beautiful, from the lush green hills to the bright olive waters that house the grass stalks where the serenity is only broken by kung fu practitioners battling each other for the right to live. The choreography is as clean as it gets, making sure that we don’t miss any breaks, blocks or punches. The fighting was Wing Chun styled with the assistance of some wonderful camera-work, important angles and that neat slow down effect to let you catch the death blow.
Donnie Yen’s Wu Xia (Dragon) is a masterpiece. Going in you will assume it to be another wire-filled beat em up and by the time the credits roll you will feel educated. No this isn’t Ip Man or The Fists of Legend, this is more Shutter Island or Sherlock Holmes. Confused yet?
Wu Xia borrows an element of detective work that many mystery lovers will dig. The detective Xu (Takeshi Kaneshiro) is a genius investigator who reminded me very much of Robert Downey Jr’s take on Sherlock Holmes in the way he studied medicine, anatomy and the fighting arts.
Synopsis: The premise of the movie is that a couple bandits happened in on a quiet town where a paper maker and father by the name of Liu (Donnie Yen) lived. The bandits attempt a theft and end up getting killed through means that looked purely accidental until the genius detective Xu investigates.
Xu’s investigation is deep and complex unlike his peers who only looked for physical evidence to determine the cause of death. His investigation soon leads to him suspecting that Liu isn’t who he claims to be and instead of a humble paper maker, is a master fighter and killer. Wu Xia is about this investigation and the unveiling of the deadly “Tang Long”, a commander of a bloody gang that massacred a village in the past.
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Wu Xia had some of the best choreographed fighting scenes that I have seen in awhile. Fans of Donnie Yen who believe that Ip Man was the crown of his offerings are in for a surprise with this one. There is really no comparing as this movie, the acting and chemistry between both Yen and Kaneshiro, plus the amazing visuals will place it apart from any comparisons that you aim to make.
My only criticism with Wu Xia was in its length as I felt that 30 minutes could have been cut from the ending sequence in order to keep the pacing perfect. Still, the shocking ending, the story itself and the talents of everyone involved made this an instant classic and it shouldn’t be long before we find it’s release copied or brought over for a domestic release.
If you are lucky enough to purchase this movie, you can trust me to do so without reservation. This is Donnie (machine gun punch) Yen at his best folks and I am honored to have seen it.