Once Upon a Time in China IV
Director: Yuen Bun
Stars: Zhao Wen Zhou, Hung Yan-Yan, Max Mok, Jean Wang
After winning the "Lion King" competition in part 3, Wong Fei-Hung (Zhao) is invited to participate in another competition. This time, the different foreign powers making a stake in China will be taking on Wong and his team -- which includes his sidekicks Fu (Mok) and Clubfoot (Hung) -- in a thinly veiled sort of "war game" designed to scare the Chinese into submission. While training for the competition, Wong runs afoul of the Red Lantern Sect, a vicious group of women who are determined to get the foreigners out of China at any cost. Wong's love life also takes a strange turn when Aunt Yee's sister, May (Wang) falls for him.
The first three OUATIC movies raised the bar for the modern "traditional" martial arts movie. Unfortunately, OUATIC4 falls short of its predecessors. Compared to the other films, the story is quite weak. In fact, it's more of a rehashing of elements in parts 2 and 3 than anything else. This might have been forgivable if the action sequences could compensate, but they don't. While Zhao Wen Zhou is good enough as Wong Fei-Hung, he's certainly no Jet Li (who left the series after a dispute with director/producer Tsui Hark). That may be an unfair comparision, but if you're changing stars in a series, you'd better make sure your new guy can do the job. OUATIC4 also just looks a lot poorer compared to its predecessors. Yuen Bun does an okay job of creating some good fight scenes, but they -- like the movie as a whole -- lack the polish of the previous films.
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