Saturday, July 10, 2010

Once Upon A Time In China (1991)

Links: TVTropesWikipedia, IMDB (7.3).

This period drama is set in late-1800s China — an era when the traditions of Imperial China were fading fast, the Opium Wars with Britain were a fresh and painful memory, and exploitation by European and American foreigners was at its peak.  The movie centers around a chivalrous kung fu master and apothecary (Jet Li) and his Robin Hood band of quasi-illegal peacekeeping vigilantes; they clash with both the corrupt government (with British puppetmasters) and a local gang of thugs (with criminal American benefactors).  The movie starts off rather disjoint, as it attempts to establish nearly all the characters by overwhelming the audience with a rapid flood of scenes, but once the movie calms down and starts revealing its plot it becomes much more watchable.  At times cloyingly nostalgic, but in the end rejects the possibility that things can remain the same.  Score: 3 stars out of 4.

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