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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Wing Chun
Wing Chun
Other // Unrated // February 5, 2002
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Hkflix]
Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted February 12, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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The Story: Yim Wing Chun (Michelle Yeoh- Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Police Story 3: Supercop) is the strong, cross dressing, independent woman, and only martial artist in a small town plagued by bandits roaming he outer countryside. She runs a bean curd shop with her foul-mouthed Aunt, and the two take in a young girl, Charmy, who one of the bandit leaders, Flying Monkey had his eyes on. Wing Chun must defend Charmy and the town from bandits while also trying to escape the amorous advances of Scholar Wong (Waise Lee- Big Heat, Bullet in the Head, The Conman) and a childhood friend Pok To (Donnie Yen- Dragon Inn, Comet Butterfly and Sword, Iron Monkey), who has returned to honor their arranged marriage. But, Wing Chun meets her match in Flying Chimp aka- Cotton Belly (Norman Chu- Duel to the Death, Return of the Deadly Blade, Zu Warriors) , the bandits leader (and brother of Flying Monkey), and her status as a self sufficient woman is dulled, actually leading to the delight of the townspeople, who enjoy seeing her lose face. So, Wing Chun must gather herself, deal with Charmy's kidnapping, discover a way to defeat the bandit leader, and accept the advances of her suitors while remaining strong but also feminine.

The Film: Take one of the biggest action heroines that China has seen, Michelle Yeoh, surround her with a great cast of supporting players under the direction of a martial arts film master Yuen Woo Ping, and you get, pretty much, a can't lose situation. You get Wing Chun.

Wing Chun was made to cash in on the ever growing popularity of the more modern styled period martial arts film, a trend that really began when the wirework enhanced choreography of Once Upon a Time In China won audiences over and, for a brief time, was all the rage in HK cinema. And there were no better hands at directing this style of fighting than one of the men who helped create it, Yuen Woo Ping, veteran real life martial artist and director of such films as Dance of the Drunken Mantis, Iron Monkey, In the line of Duty 4, and Drunken Master. This film was also made at the peak of Michele Yeoh's comeback, having effectively "retired" for many years, only to stage a career making return to HK action by co-starring with Jackie Chan in Supercop: Police Story 3. Although she began her career as a solo star, in Yes, Madam, Royal Warriors, and Magnificent Warriors, Wing Chun was her first solo film since her comeback. And, with their talents in top form, Wing Chun stands as one of the better films in both Yeoh and Woo Ping's resume.

As far as actual wing chun in Wing Chun, well there is probably more realistic wing chun fighting in The Great Muppet Caper. Well, that is a little harsh (but hopefully funny). If you want to see good wing chun fighting in a martial arts film, you are better off checking out Sammo Hung's excellent Prodigal Son starring Yuen Biao or Warriors Two starring Casanova Wong. Wing Chun is not about authenticity and what it lacks in realism, Wing Chun more than makes up for its dazzling fight scenes- particularly the bean curd sequence that no doubt will go on Michelle Yeoh's highlight reel as one of her best performances. Yes, she and Woo Ping do portray the economical, flowing-with-force style of the martial form, but Woo Ping also just cant help but throw in the jaw dropping, over the top crazy jumps and outlandish kicking and punching. For me, in Woo Ping's list of modern fight films, Wing Chun is second only to Iron Monkey.

Yeoh was injured during filming and subsequently had to be doubled in some shots. I've read where some HK fanatics harp on this, the back facing shots and close ups, but I don't think it really matters. It still has great fight sequences, and anyone believing Michelle, Jet Li or Jackie Chan don't use doubles are sadly mistaken. -It is just a film.- Although there are some great jokes taking jibes at sexual taboos (for instance, the infamous footbath scene), I guess the only minor complaint one could make is that Yuen Woo Ping plays up the comedy a bit much, or maybe its just my gwailo sensibilities and I don't get HK comedy. But, the film is basically a grand sex farce laced with some great action sequences, sort of dragging briefly in the middle when comedy of errors becomes its main focus.

The DVD: From the Mainland China releasing company Guang Dong Tung Ah Picture- This is when you wonder- Why bother? For the better par of five to six years I've had a vhs dub of Wing Chun, one which I've watched maybe 8(?) times. That old vhs dub has a better picture than this disc. Where do I begin? You want washed out color?- You got it. You want grain and dirt?- You get grain and dirt. You want an extremely soft picture?- Gee golly, gosh, do you have it. You want low resolution and after image/ghost trails following the characters in the fast moving scenes?- You got it. It really is a positively pathetic picture, one of the worst I've come across. Sound- Mediocre Dolby Digital 2.0 Mandarin (default) and Cantonese, with default Chinese and English subtitles burned into the print, containing various flubs, sometimes cut off in the corners, and they are white so they disappear into the extremely washed out picture. Extras- None, not even a menu.

As of this writing, I have heard of no other Wing Chun releases in the near future. So, if you don't have a friend or a video store near you with Wing Chun and you are desperate to see it, this and the out of print Tai Seng edition appear to be your only options. You nave been warned.

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