Once Upon a Time in China V

Once Upon a Time in China V


Director: Tsui Hark

Stars: Zhao Wen Zhou, Rosamund Kwan, Max Mok, Hung Yan-Yan, Kent Cheng

Finding himself on the run after a group of eight foreign powers have started a war with China, Wong Fei-Hung (Zhao) and his group, including sidekicks Fu (Mok) and Clubfoot (Hung), head to a small town to meet up with his fiancée Aunt Yee (Kwan) and students So and Porky (Cheng). When Wong gets to town, he finds it over-run by pirates. Instead of heading to safety in Hong Kong, Wong and his friends decide to help out the town.

OUATIC5 is quite different from the other films in the series. While the first four were (for the most part) very serious, OUATIC5 feels more like a Jackie Chan or Wong Jing movie. In fact, besides a fairly gory opening sequence, the majority of the first half of the film is more of a romantic comedy than anything else, as Wong juggles Aunt Yee and her sister May. The last half of the movie was obviously inspired by Jackie Chan's Project A, as the group heads to the pirates' island hideaway. The last half-hour of the film is filled with action (both of the kung-fu and gun-fu variety) and quite fun to watch. Again, Zhao Wen Zhou can't completely fill Jet Li's shoes, but he looks a lot better here than in part 4, and the supporting cast (especially Hung) do a good job as well.

On the surface, OUATIC5 seems like a strange combination, but it works -- at least most of the time. Like the other films in the series, OUATIC5 tries a bit too hard in bringing home its point. The ending, which features a thinly-veiled metaphor for the 1997 Chinese takeover of Hong Kong, is so painfully obvious it's not even funny. I thought Tsui Hark wouldn't have to resort to such cliches.

OUATIC5 isn't as great as the first three movies, but at least it's fun -- something the previous movie wasn't.


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