True Legend
True Legend
R | 09 February 2010 (USA)
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Su Qi-Er, a wealthy man living during the Qing Dynasty who loses his fortune and reputation as a result of a conspiracy against him. After being forced out onto the streets, Su dedicates his life to martial arts and reemerges as a patriotic hero known as the "King of Beggars."


I like movies that are aware of what they are selling... without [any] greater aspirations than to make people laugh and that's it.

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Rio Hayward

All of these films share one commonality, that being a kind of emotional center that humanizes a cast of monsters.

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Tobias Burrows

It's easily one of the freshest, sharpest and most enjoyable films of this year.

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Story: It's very simple but honestly that is fine.


There are a number of things to admire in TRUE LEGEND: the grafting of scales onto his body as body armor by the white-faced evil son-in-law; the incestuous love he feels for his sister (which lends his character a bit more depth than the average martial arts movie villain); the cinematography, which is gorgeous. Unfortunately, the cgi PUPPETEERING reaches new highs (lows?) in this one. It's impossible to tell if any of the players has one whit of genuine athletic ability, because the cgi and the wirework keep getting in the way. All of this foolishness reminds me of The Boxer Rebellion: deluded into believing that they were impervious to bullets, faithful followers launched what turned out to be suicidal assaults on the fortresses of the foreign devils who had come to conquer their land. The development of Drunk-Fu is almost an afterthought in TRUE LEGEND and David Carradine's caricature of a professional wrestling manager is instantly forgettable.

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There are some really spectacular fight scenes in this film, and that's why I have to give it a decent rating. While some may criticize that there were multiple plots/stories in this movie (and there were), I kind of liked gave me more than it should have, and I liked all the stories. Some of the acting is a bit over-the-top, but for the most part, I thought it was well-done. Yes, it is very similar to the Ip Man movies. The final scenes of True Legend are VERY similar to the final scenes of Ip Man 2.Sadly, the only major criticism I have of this movie is David Carradine. Glad this wasn't his last would have been a terrible way to go out. His performance was completely over-the-top, and very unbelievable. The scenes with him almost ruined the whole movie for me, but overall, True Legend was a fun experience for me.

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Let me start off my review with the good part: the wushu and action is brilliantly choreographed. It's not particularly over-the-top or flashy, but a more classic take on martial arts, and one of the best i've seen in a while.However, the whole of the movie has no idea what the hell it is doing. There are, essentially, three arcs in this movie. 1) Short, builds up the character 2) The vast majority of the movie and with the real plot 3) What the hell?In fact, let me qualify. The first and second arc together would be quite good alone if the third was not a part of the movie. Su, respected soldier, declines an offer to become governor and instead settles down with his pretty wife and has a kid. He recommends his foster brother (Yuan) - also his wife's brother - to the post, and leaves hoping his foster brother will be happy (Yuan has always seen himself living in Su's shadow). A few years later, unfortunately, Yuan is a bitter man and comes to kill Su and his foster father after perfecting the evil Five Venom Fists, and kidnaps Su's kid. Su ends up on a mountain with his wife, training to right the wrongs. Nothing brilliant, but oftentimes wushu movies are not the most plot driven, so it's OK. And i'll admit that the plot actually had me interested, even though it was fairly corny; i was under the impression that it was kind of a feel good movie with lots of ass kicking.The problem arises with the ending of the second arc and the beginning of the third into the end. You would think the second arc would end in a certain way (to avoid spoilers), given the way the whole movie works. But it ends unfittingly dissatisfying for no particular reason. And i This was absolutely not a movie that should have had the ending it did (for the second arc). In fact, excepting the very ending and the third arc, the fighting and the acting were good enough that i considered giving this movie an 8, because it was simply very solid for what it tried to be (until it started to be idiotic). There were even elements of plot that could have been more interesting and explored further, i thought, but ultimately were cast aside lazily. Primarily, i refer to Su meeting one "God of Wushu" as he trains on the mountain. His encounter not only appears entirely ridiculous - it's made apparent that actually, Su is going insane, and instead of having found a master of martial arts, is instead getting extremely drunk and rolls around injuring himself. At the same time, however, you know that Su will eventually go to fight his brother to reclaim his son, so there's actually a bit of potential - the movie has definitive elements of the fantastical already, so i was willing to accept some sort of Wushu god plot line, or perhaps some sort of revelation/epic training thing - but no, apparently Su IS insane, yet apparently his drunken rolling has actually turned him into the master of kung-fu he was deluded about? It would work if there was some sort of element of the God of Wushu being NOT a total delusion, but in fact he was, and we are even shown Su rolling around like a drunk - so it really makes no sense.And that is really the crux of the problem with the movie - again, it has no idea what it wants to be. It's as if the screenwriter had a brilliant idea, but decided he didn't really give a damn about it making sense 4/5 the way through. I'll try and make an analogy: say you are skiing down a slope. It's a double black diamond - steep, mogul covered, all that jazz - and you have wrecked the slope, looking great the whole way down. At the end, as you enter the flat part of the mountain, just coasting to a stop, you suddenly fall down and break your leg - and then, deciding that you might as well, beat yourself to death. Really, it's an achievement in the sense that i have rarely seen a movie fall so hard on its face so quickly.Anyways, this indecision leads into the absurd third act. Aside from the fact that the movie should have ended prior, it has nothing to do with the first or second arc, plot-wise or thematically, and offers nothing worthwhile. It also indulges into stupid stereotypes, clichés, and just is all around terrible, as well as having this sort of strange "funny or serious or what the hell is this?" atmosphere. I wrote this review with the hopes that i could describe how bad the movie becomes, but I sincerely believe i could write a legitimate college thesis on it and am unable to do so in this review. This review probably sounds very harsh but again, it's really the last fifteen-twenty minutes that ruin the movie, and it's still boggling my mind. If you wanted to see the film already, don't let this deter you - see it - what's good is quite good, but simply be prepared for the awful conclusion. In fact, you may want to consider turning it off after the second arc and pretending the second arc ended the way it should have, because it doesn't.This review ended up being a lot more jumbled and unclear than i had thought it would, but i can only hope that my sense of confusion enlightens you as to the confusion that the movie will bestow upon you.

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I am basing my 9 stars for two reasons. First, the choreography is top notch. Second the cinematography is top notch. Simply put, this a very beautiful movie to watch. As for the story and's an action movie with a fairly simple story. It was designed to entertain with action and composition so the story is not the main vehicle which it uses to engage the viewer. If you are looking for extremely beautiful images, super insane kinetic choreography and fight scenes, you have come to the right place. The fights are on par with and perhaps even surpass Crouching Tiger, or Hero. Woo Ping just keeps improving on his choreography. I don't know how he does it, but he does it in every new movie. This is a definite purchase on bluray for my collection.

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