We just came back from watching Legend Of The Fist: The Return Of Chen Zhen and boy, the show seemed a tad too ambitious in what they were trying to do. There was Chen Zhen acting as the Prince of Persia at the start of the show, then moonlighting as a masked crusader, there were Brits and Japanese forces in China, there were resistance fighters, plenty of gratuitous kungfu violence, and Donnie Yen making those high-pitched yowls and taking off his shirt for added strength.
We were thinking that the focus was going to be more on Donnie Yen pulling off a secret superhero identity while dressed like Kato from the Green Hornet (we think it's some kind of nod to Bruce Lee, since this show was suppose to be the sequel to Fist Of Fury), but somehow there were too many things going on when they have to add in the somehow-required Chinese Movie Formula script.
Oh yes. The CMF. Something we've been noticing in the kungfu films. For that, throw in the following:
One. A historical time of oppression, when China is under the iron fist of some other country.
Two. Some form of resistance, probably led by a newspaper editor. Said newspaper editor, and his office may at some point in the show be attacked by the oppressors and they may beat him up and probably say, "Write nasty stuff about us, eh? Let's see you write like this!" while crushing his hand.
Three. A Chinese police officer forced to work under the oppressive government. Probably able to speak their language too, but most of time is able to speak in rapidfire Cantonese or Mandarin and still be understood. And Chinese officer will be accused of being ineffectual and the oppressor's lackey.
Four. Chinese propaganda about how the Chinese will never give up and become slaves to the oppressor, and people saying about how it's okay to die as long as it's for something honourable.
Five. Oppressors are always shown to be violent, heartless and cunning, resorting to underhanded measures especially for point six. Unlike the honourable and compassionate Chinese.
Six. There will be a showdown finale between the martial arts savvy protagonist and a martial arts savvy oppressor. The oppressors, even though confident that they will crush the protagonist with ease, will either drug or poison, overwhelm to weaken with underlings, or cheat one way or another. Protagonist will still win in the end.
Seven. The show ends with text telling slightly more of what happens to the protagonist, and that the war is far from over...
Perhaps we're exaggerating but there's a familiarity that bores a bit after a while. The best thing we can do to enjoy the film?
Switch off brain. Enjoy gratuitous violent kungfu battle scenes. Applaud that Donnie Yen's allowed to go even more freestyle compared to his affable and reserved Ip Man role where he doesn't kill everyone. After that, remember only the fighting scenes and don't question the script.