Legend of the Wolf
Director: Donnie Yen
Stars: Donnie Yen, Carman Lee, Dayo Wong
A young man seeks out a old hitman (Yen) known as "The Wolf." Before Wolf takes the job, he relates a story from his youth, where he wandered the countryside after losing his memory, seeking out his childhood love (Wong). He comes into a village and takes on Carman Lee as his side-kick and manages to find Wong just as a band of raiders attack the village seeking out Wolf.
Donnie Yen has a pretty spotty track record and this film doesn't help it out much. The plot has probably been done dozens, if not hundreds, of times before and to call Legend of the Wolf's script "mediocre" would be an understatement. It literally throws every cliche in the book into the mix. The fact that none of the actors are very good is also a hindrance to the enjoyment of the film. Yen, in particular, is horrible. He has the same wooden expression on his face no matter what he's doing, whether it's chopping up bad guys or making love. Speaking of making love, why the hell does every movie seem to have a romantic subplot? I realize that's part of the Wolf's motivation for going to the village in the first place, but ultimately Wong's character seems superfluous to the plot and any scene with her really seems to bog the film down. I want to see Donnie Yen kicking ass, not making out.
What saves Legend of the Wolf are the action scenes. While they're really not that original (several seem ripped off from Tsui Hark's The Blade) and sometimes the camerawork gets in the way (e.g., too many closeups, overused slow motion/undercranking, etc.), they are pretty exciting, especially the finale, which runs for about 25 minutes. If Yen had concentrated more on the martial arts instead of the romance and heavy-handed symbolism in Legend of the Wolf, it could have been a really good movie.
A review of the DVD for this movie can be found here
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