Site Features
- Asian Film Awards
- Site Recommendations

- Reader Poll Results

- The Sponsor Page
- The FAQ Page
support this site by shopping at
Click to visit
Asian Blu-ray discs at
The Wrath of Vajra
The Wrath of Vajra

Xing Yu and Steve Yoo square off in The Wrath of Vajra
Chinese: 金剛王  
Year: 2013  
Director: Law Wing-Cheong  
Producer: Pang Hong, Yang Zhenjian
Writer: Yang Zhenjian, Qu Li'nan
Action: Zhang Peng

Xing Yu (Shi Yanneng), Steve Yoo Sung-Jun, Nam Hyun-Joon, Jiang Baocheng, Zhang Yamei, Yasuaki Kurata, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Anthony Lau Wing, Zhang Chunzhong, Matt Mullins, Kori Yiadom, Shang Xiaofeng, Robert Cuenca, Wang Wei, Dong Yanlin

The Skinny: Generic martial arts flick that has two out of three solid fight sequences and plenty of unremarkable filler. Chinese nationalism themes and crappy Caucasian actors notwithstanding, Wrath of Vajra is low on nostalgia. In his first lead role, Xing Yu a.k.a. Shi Yanneng fights well and acts not as well.
by Kozo:

Longtime martial arts supporting player Xing Yu (a.k.a. Shi Yanneng) gets his chance at a starring role with The Wrath of Vajra, and results are as expected. Xing demonstrates that he’s an impressive fighter but also an unimpressive actor, and the movie itself has solid fight sequences and questionable everything else. With director Law Wing-Cheong (Milkyway Image films Punished and Hooked on You) at the helm, one might hope for something special, but Wrath of Vajra should interest only devout genre fans and not average or discerning audiences. You know those genre films that surpass their niche and reach out to a larger audience thanks to a good story, ground-breaking action, charismatic stars or clever filmmaking? Wrath of Vajra is not one of those movies. If you wanted it to be, well, sorry about that.

That said, the film delivers a solid if occasionally plodding fight film experience. Xing Yu plays K-29, so named because he was one in a series of children trained to fight and kill by a Japanese “death cult” called Hades. Even though founder Kawao Amano (Yasuaki Kurata) is in jail, he’s asked to restart Hades in 1930s Japan-occupied China to help the imperialist Japanese gain spiritual domination over the Chinese. Hades calls some of its students, including Daisuke Kurashige (Steve Yoo), back into the fold, but they can’t enlist K-29 because he became a righteous follower of the Shaolin Temple. That’s an issue because K-29 was Hades’ deadliest warrior, much to the annoyance of the jealous Kurashige. A conflict with the righteous K-29 is inevitable, so Kurashige and his Hades posse prepare for K-29 to one day show up at their gates.

Meanwhile, Hades starts its incursion into China by opening many local branches, beating up Chinese fighters and acquiring more children for conversion to their cause. Hades actually possesses a belief system involving the use of fists, rather than swords or guns, to subjugate people, but those beliefs don’t seem enforceable when you consider the number of sneering, obviously evil Hades members running around. Still, Kurashige is a believer and so is Eko (Zhang Yamei), the daughter of Kawao Amano and a photojournalist hired to spread PR about Hades’ proliferation in China. However, Eko begins to doubt the sacred mission of Hades when her compatriots start killing prisoners and kidnapping kids – though she doesn’t really notice or object until after K-29 shows up at the main Hades Temple, meaning that for the majority of her Hades employ she’s been A) a bad journalist, B) an idiot, or C) the product of bad writing.

And “C” it is! Granted, there’s nothing that wrong with using a generic premise as a launching pad for action sequences (see Bloodsport or, hell, pretty much any Jean-Claude Van Damme movie). However, Vajra’s story is too detailed, clichéd and unconvincing, and it requires scads of exposition to properly establish. The film relies on familiar concepts of cruelty versus compassion and force versus forgiveness, plus there’s a mysterious “Wrath of Vajra” technique that’s unlocked via the purity of one’s emotions. Obviously, Hades members won’t be able to rock their inner Vajra, but K-29 can because he possesses the power of love. Gag. At least we get sparkling dialogue like “Only love can conquer the fear of death,” and the fun retort, “Let death kiss your ass!” Also, someone says, “The sword in one’s mind is more terrifying” – whatever that means. The fortune cookie included with your take-out could have written this film.

Action is mostly good. Xing Yu’s first two bouts are terrific fun; after arriving at the Hades Temple, K-29 takes on Tetsumaru, the “Hell of Vajra” (Jiang Baocheng), and later faces Crazy Monkey, the “Zombie of Vajra” (Korean dancer Poppin Hyun-Joon from, uh, Kung Fu Hip Hop), and both are well-choreographed, creative face-offs. The showdown with Kurashige is a letdown, however, thanks to over stylized presentation (Slow motion! Pouring rain! Rippling abdominals!) and the unconvincing idea that Steve Yoo is a match for Xing Yu. He may well be, but since Yoo’s role primarily involves brooding while Xing Yu’s involves beating up tough opponents, you can see how one might think otherwise. The filmmakers fail to establish their main villain properly. They portray Xing Yu’s other opponents as proper threats; Jiang Bao-Cheng is a sneering man-mountain, while Poppin Hyun-Joon plays a creepy cannibal. Steve Yoo is buffed but also mopey and vaguely sympathetic. You almost feel sorry for him.

For a fight fix, Wrath of Vajra is acceptable and unremarkable, as it resembles one of the zillion similar movies made back in the early nineties. The film’s production is sharper than its predecessors but lacks the bombastic execution that made some of those B-grade actioners exhilarating. Vajra does bring back a fun trope by including random Westerners who fight decently and act laughably, plus the dialogue and subtitles can amuse. A bonus for Cantonese speakers: The cult’s name Hades is rendered phonetically as “ha-dik-si”, which is actually the same name to Hong Kongers as the fast food chain Hardee’s. So when the film mentions that Hades is establishing branches all over China, it sounds like a new burger joint will be opening soon in Chongqing. The chain’s Monster Thickburger weighs in at over 1400 calories, so opening Hardee’s restaurants in China might actually be pretty deadly. The Japanese should try this strategy in Wrath of Vajra 2. (Kozo, 3/2014)



Region 0 NTSC
Well Go USA
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Original Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
Find this at Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen