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Once Upon a Time in China
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Jet Li as Wong Fei-Hong in Once Upon a Time in China
Chinese: 黃飛鴻
Year: 1991
Director: Tsui Hark
Action: Yuen Cheung-Yan, Yuen Shun-Yi, Lau Kar-Wing
Cast: Jet Li Lian-Jie, Rosamund Kwan Chi-Lam, Yuen Biao, Kent Cheng Juk-Si, Jacky Cheung Hok-Yau, Yen Shi-Kwan, Lau Shun, Jimmy Wang Yu, Yuen Cheung-Yan, Wu Ma, Wong Chi-Yeung, Yuen Gam-Fai, Yau Gin-Gwok, Yuen Shun-Yi
The Skinny: Required viewing for any Hong Kong Cinema fan. While long-winded and overstuffed, the film still provides terrific action sequences and a healthy history lesson.
by Kozo:

Once Upon a Time in China is director Tsui Hark’s seminal Wong Fei-Hong epic. Clocking in at over two hours, the hit film launched an entire series of new Wong Fei-Hong films.  Plot: China is in turmoil, with Western influence having an upsetting effect on China's long cultural history. Wong Fei-Hong (Jet Li) must fight dastardly foreigners intent on smudging China with their gweilo presence. Said bastard foreigners are in cahoots with a local band of Chinese who frame Wong’s local militia for a series of terrorist acts. 

Meanwhile, Leung Fu (Yuen Biao), a member of said evil band of Chinese, gets attracted to Aunt Yee (Rosamund Kwan). Fu hooks up with Master Yim (Yen Shi-Kwan), who wants to supplant Wong’s status as the number one kung-fu guy. To accomplish his goal, Master Yim hooks up with the bastard band of Chinese who want to get Wong Fei-Hong. Eventually, all the evil parties make a deal with the bastard foreigners and try to ship Chinese women to America. Their plan: to entice Chinese workers to head to America as coolies. Aunt Yee is kidnapped as part of this plot, and Leung Fu objects. Now he and Wong Fei-Hong must save Yee AND come to terms with the reality of gweilos in Asia. It's like this: the Chinese have kung-fu, but the foreigners have guns. 

The above Byzantine plot is part cinematic drama but also equal parts political commentary and actual Chinese history. The result: a rather confusing kung-fu epic that's helped along by fantastic action sequences and a terrific central performance by Jet Li. There's plenty of debate as to whether the film is truly a cinema classic or simply long and boring, but fandom seems to side with the former opinion. Once Upon a Time in China is worth watching for the liberal doses of Chinese history and for its excellent action design. Tsui Hark won a Best Director Hong Kong Film Award for this film. (Kozo 1996/1998)

Awards: 11th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
• Winner - Best Director (Tsui Hark)
• Winner - Best Editing (Marco Mak Chi-Sin)
• Winner - Best Action Design (
Yuen Cheung-Yan, Yuen Sun-Yi, Lau Kar-Wing)
• Winner - Best Original Film Score (James Wong Jim)
• Nomination - Best Picture
• Nomination - Best Supporting Actor (Jacky Cheung Hok-Yau)
• Nomination - Best Cinematography (David Chung Chi-Man, Wong Chung-Biu, Arthur Wong Ngok-Tai, Lam Kwok-Wah, Chan Tung-Chuen, Chan Pui-Ka)
• Nomination - Best Art Direction (Yee Chung-Man)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Intercontinental Video
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Original Cantonese Language Track
Remixed Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1
Remixed Cantonese DTS 5.1
Remixed Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
"Legend of Wong Fei-Hong" featurette, trailers, photos
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
Also see:

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)
Last Hero in China (1993)

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image courtesy of Mega Star Video Distribution, Ltd. Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen