AWFJ Women On Film – “True Legend” – Review by Susan Granger

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Martial arts fanatics may relish this brutal, action-packed fantasy but, for the rest of us, Yuen Woo Ping’s cinematic battle between good and evil turns out to be a tedious slog.

In 1861 in China, the acclaimed Qing warrior, Gen. Su Can (Vincent Zhao), retires after rescuing a prince from capture in battle. When he’s offered a high post in government, Su suggests that his adopted brother, Yuan (Andy On), become Governor instead. Peace-seeking Su is far more interested in marrying Yuan’s sister Ying (Zhou Xun) and subsequently raising their son Feng (Guo Xinadong) and coaching students in wushu. But treacherous Yuan – who has always been jealous of Su – is determined to take revenge for the death of his birth father at Su’s hands. With golden armor grotesquely sewn into his skin to make him invincible and utilizing the deadly Five Venom Fists, Yuan brutally fights Su Can, forcing off a raging waterfall, leaving him critically injured. With the help of reclusive Dr. Yu (Michelle Yeoh), Ying and his own vivid hallucinations, Su Can recovers his strength and stamina on Beidou Mountain, determined to rescue little Feng, whom Yuan has kidnapped, kept in leg irons and buried alive.

After making his reputation as a stuntman and fight choreographer, Hong Kong’s Yuen Woo Ping (“The Matrix” trilogy, “Kill Bill” Volumes I and II, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Hero”) has branched out into directing. Unfortunately, the script by To Chi-long lacks any sense of narrative arc for the characters. Instead, it’s burdened with an inconsistent, often uneven plot, culminating in a postscript that proclaims how Su’s mastery of the acrobatic Drunken Fist technique influenced countless generations, including Jackie Chan.

Loaded with distinct fighting styles – including MMA, knife combat and awesome, slow-motion aerial stunts – this film also marks one of the final screen appearances of David Carradine in a cameo as a fight promoter of Killer Anton’s Wrestlers in the Wushu Academy.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “True Legend” is a formulaic 5, chronicling a ferocious family feud.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.