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Last Hero in China
|     review    |     notes     |     availability     |     also see      |
"New lunch specials at El Pollo Loco!!"
Jet Li does the chicken dance
Chinese: 黃飛鴻之鐵雞鬥蜈蚣
Year: 1993
Director: Wong Jing
Producer: Jet Li Lian-Jie
Writer: Wong Jing
Action: Yuen Woo-Ping, Yuen Cheung-Yan
Cast: Jet Li Lian-Jie, Cheung Man, Dicky Cheung Wai-Kin, Nat Chan Bak-Cheung, Leung Ka-Yan, Gordon Liu, Jue Tit-Woh, Anita Yuen Wing-Yee, Yuen King-Tan, Chung Fat, Wong Tin-Lam, Dion Lam Dik-On
  The Skinny: Jet Li returns to the role that made him famous in Wong Jing's Last Hero in China, an otherwise adequate addition to the Wong Fei-Hung mythology marred by a downright embarrassing climax. Jet Li dressed up as a chicken? What the f%#k?!
 
Review by
Calvin
McMillin:

In 1983, Sean Connery reprised his role as 007 in Never Say Never Again, a decent James Bond flick that was not officially tied to the MGM series. With Last Hero in China, we have a similar case: Jet Li once again stars as turn-of-the-century folk hero Wong Fei-Hung, but this time sans Once Upon a Time in China's producer-director Tsui Hark. In Hark's place, we have Wong Jing, and boy, does the difference sure show.

Last Hero in China is an action comedy, but as with most of Wong Jing's films, it verges on crass parody. The movie's plot is all over the place as Fei-Hung and his disciples relocate the respectable Po Chi Lam clinic, only to become next-door neighbors with the gals at the local brothel. From there, we have Fei-Hung and company breaking up a prostitution racket run by evil monks, a quasi-romance for our hero with a beautiful street performer (Cheung Man), Fei-Hung battling deafness (don't ask), some required lion dancing, and a tacked-on scheme to abduct a British official by the Boxer's Association. Then, to top it all off, there's the ludicrous finale in which Jet Li dresses up as a red rooster (and clucks!) to do battle with a giant lion dance-inspired centipede.

On the bright side, the movie is actually pretty engaging up until the "rooster incident" thanks to some top-notch fight choreography from Yuen Woo-Ping. Li's early fight with Shaolin Master Killer Gordon Liu is pretty nifty as is his post-rooster battle with a corrupt official. Yuen Woo-Ping even borrows from his earlier work as he makes this Wong Fei-Hung not only a master of the No-Shadow Kick, but of drunken boxing as well. For those who don't know, Yuen Woo-Ping was the director of the original Jackie Chan fight-fest Drunken Master. And since Last Hero in China came out a year earlier than Chan's spectacular Drunken Master II, we can't accuse Wong Jing of ripping off Jackie Chan.

Though Wong Jing deserves a great deal of blame for the proceedings, Jet Li bears some of the responsibility as well - he was listed as producer after all. Though one can understand why Li would want to toy with the Wong Fei-Hung image and even his own image (Jackie Chan-style outtakes occur at the end), Last Hero in China still fails to add anything noteworthy to the Wong Fei-Hung legend. As a sequel, it falls short since it lacks the grandeur of the Once Upon a Time in China series. As a parody, it stinks because it lacks one vital ingredient - humor. (Calvin McMillin 2002)

 
Notes:

Telefilms International released Last Hero in China on a budget-priced DVD as Deadly China Hero. The disc is in Cantonese with burned-in English subtitles. The picture quality looks like bad VHS and there seem to be some edits. Don't bother buying it, unless you're a cheap bastard.
Don't laugh, but there is a 1956 film entitled Wong Fei-Hung - Iron Cock Against Centipede in which actor Kwan Tak-Hing dresses up as a rooster to do battle with centipede-garbed evildoers. I guess Wong Jing isn't completely to blame for this mess after all.
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Vicol Entertainment Ltd. (HK)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks
Dolby Digital
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
Also see:

Once Upon a Time in China (1991)
Once Upon a Time in China II (1992)
Once Upon a Time in China III (1993)
Once Upon a Time in China IV (1993)
Once Upon a Time in China V (1994)
Once Upon a Time in China & America (1997)

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