five hundred years or so, a prestigious martial arts tournament is held at the
Taoist monastery on Wu Dang Mountain. It
might sound like the perfect set up for a kung fu movie, but it is really just
a pretext to allow its sponsor to hunt for seven mystical treasures hidden
throughout the exotic environs. Call it
distraction by Kumite. Prof. Tang Yunlong
might be an adventurer, but he has a pressing need for the mythic treasures in
former John Woo protégé Patrick Leung’s Wu Dang (trailer
Well Go USA releases today on DVD, Blu-ray, and various digital platform.
western dressing, modern man, Prof. Tang could be considered Republican China’s
Indiana Jones, except for his daughter Tang Ning, whom he has schooled in the
martial arts. He does not need the
treasures for financial reasons. Instead,
he hopes their storied power can cure the rare genetic disease his daughter
inherited from her late mother.
Xin is also after the treasures, or at least one of them. An Excalibur-like sword forged from a
meteorite once belonged to her father and she is honor-bound to reclaim
it. Prof. Tang will not need it for
long, so he is happy to make a deal with her (especially since she is played by
Mi Yang). Unfortunately, there are
others after the treasures, whose motives are far less noble.
choreographer Corey Yuen (director of the original Transporter) really ups the ante with some spectacular fight
scenes. There are some nifty matches
staged for the tournament’s ring, picturesquely perched precariously on the
edge the mountaintop. Yet, when Prof. Tang
and Tian Xin start fighting together, in a scorching sort of martial arts
tango, Wu Dang really puts films like
Mr. & Mrs. Smith to shame. These are sequences genre fans will
immediately re-watch and enjoy just as much a second and third time around.
out for the first time as the co-lead of a martial arts film, Yang is a
fantastic as Tian Xin. Deceptively
flirty and all kinds of lethal, she puts her stamp on the action heroine
role. In the rare event a Hollywood actress
takes on such a part, it is hyped to the heavens as something extraordinary,
but every HK and Mainland star of note eventually gets an opportunity to flex
their kung fu chops. That’s one of the
reasons we like these movies.
as Tang Ning, Jiao (Josie) Hu kicks butt pretty darn well too, at the youthful
age of thirteen. So endearing in Tom
Shu-yu Lin’s Starry Starry Night, she
is definitely a movie star of the future.
While she looks somewhat older than her limited years, the admittedly
chaste pseudo-romantic relationship between her and Louis Fan’s doofus novice
still seems a bit inappropriate.
However, the father-daughter rapport between her and Wenzhuo (Vincent)
Zhao’s Prof. Tang is surprisingly touching.
A veteran of the Once Upon a Time
in China franchise, Zhao knows how to conduct himself in a fight scene and also
develops real chemistry with effervescent Yang.
Dang ends in a smorgasbord of New Agey sentimentality, but that happens
sometimes. Yuen’s fight choreography and
the two appealing central relationships more than compensate. A kung fu film more or less suitable for
family viewing, Wu Dang will still
thoroughly satisfy genre connoisseurs. Recommended
with surprising affection, it is now available in home viewing formats from
Well Go USA.
Labels: Corey Yuen, DVD, Martial arts cinema, Mi Yang, Vincent Zhao