Fist Of Legend (1994) – Jet Li

Not as powerful a plot as Jet Li’s movie made a decade later called Fearless (2006), but at least Fist Of Legend (1994) has a decent English dubbed version unlike Fearless.

Fist Of Legend is an entertaining albeit thin on plot. The fight scenes are plentiful and well made – well staged, well shot, energetic and creative – not too monotonous for a Kung Fu movie.

Jet Li performs well as usual, this time in the role of Chen Zen, a student of Huo YuanJia (who the Fearless movie was based on). Chen Zen’s female companion in this movie, called Mitsuko Yamada, is played well by Shinobu Nakayama – she and Jet Li make a credible couple.

The other actors in this movie range from adequate to pretty good, including Yasuaki Kurata who does a good job as Fuimo Funakoshi, a wise & friendly Japanese warrior who defeats Chen Zen without injuring him. He is also Mitsuko’s uncle in this movie. And Billy Chow does a good job as General Fujita – a strong military leader and the final nemesis Chen Zen needs to defeat.

Fist of Legend (1994) is kind of a Tribute to Bruce Lee, as Jet Li replicates some of the concepts Bruce made famous two decades prior, including Dojo Storms (a la Fist Of Fury), Butterfly Boxing (a la Way Of The Dragon) and Backflip Kicks (a la Enter The Dragon). The plot runs VERY similar to Bruce Lee’s movie Fist Of Fury (1972), with a fictional lead character called Chen Zen whose teacher is poisoned by a Japanese plot with the help of Chinese traitors. Both movies feature an epic dojo storm. It’s also great to see Jet Li attempt to impersonate the beautiful Butterfly Boxing footwork that Bruce Lee made famous in Way Of The Dragon (1972) – credit to Jet Li for attempting this although it’s clearly not something he’s well trained in, as it looks quite awkward to the trained eye but probably looks fine to the casual audience – it even looked a bit forced when Bruce did it (compared to professional boxers dancing around a bouncy ring canvas, which is bound to be more fluid than dancing on concrete) so we’ll let Jet Li off with this and appreciate his tribute – it was still good to watch.