Once Upon a Time in China

  • Film
  • Action and adventure
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Tsui Hark has been trawling his childhood memories of Hong Kong for years, looking for stories to remake and heroes to revive, and this is his most impressive catch to date. It brings back one of South China's perennial favourites, martial artist and bone-setter Wong Fei Hung, and imagines him as a young man in 1875, battling renegade Chinese in cahoots with the unscrupulous British. Tsui spends far too much time trying to freshen up the mythology surrounding the character (he has a rather tiresome stable of disciples); as usual, he comes into his own in the action set pieces, especially a fight atop flailing ladders. Underlying it all is a Peckinpah-esque lament for dying traditions and values, but its real strengths are its choreography, its flashes of wit, and its all-round exuberance.

Release details

Duration: 135 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Tsui Hark
Screenwriter: Tsui Hark, Kai Chi Yuen, Yiu Ming Leung, Pik Yin Tang
Cast: Jet Li
Yuen Biao
Jacky Cheung
Rosamund Kwan
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