The Tuxedo vs. Once Upon a Time in China 2



Oh sweet Lord. The pain! The hurt! The anguish!

Jeez, you must REALLY hate wire-fu stuff. Serious question - Have you ever liked a martial arts movie that extensively used wires? Other than The Matrix, if you want to call that a martial arts movie.

Crouching Tiger is a personal favourite, but that's really an exception that proves various rules. With CTHD I should dislike it for the romance, the wire-work, the sped up footage, the fortune cookie philosophy and a lead that doesn't actually know how to (screen)fight. I dunno, it just somehow clicks, especially with Jen's melancholy arrogance and, I guess, existential angst...? Plus, Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi! Most of the time I can tolerate wires if there's enough entertainment value in the other happenings, or if there's some sort of contextual need, like super-powers or something. Anyway, your question prompted me to look through my list. Firstly I learned that my MA flicks are in absolute disarray in terms of both order and position. Mainly I learned that I don't have a whole lot of wire-fu on my list, and most of them (mainly Jet Li films) have been pretty lowly consigned. I guess that pretty much answers your question. I will say this though, I think Once Upon a Time in China II (and the others in the series) is a mediocre film at best, regardless of the wire work. It's an absolute mess plot-wise, and makes very little sense. It starts of as some sort of political espionage, then it goes all spiritualist mumbo-jumbo, and has a healthy dose of 'Our Land' crap thrown in for good measure. I don't think the continuity from the first one is that fitting either, but I can't be sure given how confusing it all is. And Wong Fei Hung is a jealous little bitch in the movie too. None of that would matter if the action was good, or even there, in fact. There are like two short fights in the first half of the film. The first one is really cool (Jet Li's movement is so fucking attractive at times), but the second one (the sparring with Donnie Yen) is mostly bollocks. The temple fight is WTF type stuff so I disregard it. The final fight is longer and would be respectable if Li and Yen didn't spend most of it playing darts with bamboo shoots and staffs. Honestly, I'm surprised you rate it as highly as you do. What is it that gets you so pumped?

It's been years since I've watched it. (I'll be 23 in a week and I haven't seen it since high school, so it's definitely been a while.) But I was a huge Jet Li fan in my teens and I didn't mind wires as much as I do now. In fact, I probably watched more wire-assisted stuff than non when I was a kid. Point being, it's probably higher than it should be. It is where it is based on memories of a time when my tastes were different. But I do remember thinking its pacing was better than the first and I remember loving both of the fights with Yen. Now that you've mentioned how high it is on my list (260 is higher than a lot of Chan's stuff, and that's just not right), I'll probably give it another look to see where I stand on it now. I'll always stand by the Fong Sai-Yuk stuff though. Yes, the fights are absolutely ridiculous, but that's the whole charm. I think they're a blast, personally.