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DVD Review

DVD cover



Starring: Sammo Hung, Wei Dong, Wu Dazhou, Lie Xin, Shi Yao, Liang Zhicheng, Zhang Jin and Tei Nan
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 12
Available 18 April 2011

At age nine, Li Yi and Li Er join their father in his martial arts school to learn Wushu. There they meet Fong Fong (Lie Xin), Xiao Zhang (Shi Yao) and Yang Yauwu (Liang Zhicheng), the five start a life-long friendship. Grown now, they compete in martial art competitions for the coveted prize of a place in the provincial martial arts team. Yet, not all of the pupils of the school have taken its teaching to heart and when they cross paths with former pupil Ke Le they discover that he has been using his skills to kidnap children...

Wushu (2008 - 1 hr, 38 min, 11 sec) is a martial arts film directed by Antony Szeto from a screenplay by Dennis Chan. The film is aimed at a young adult audience and was produced by the legendary Jackie Chan, mind you there have been a slew of films which has had his name attached to them, where he either turns up in a fleeting cameo or not at all. In this case, I am sorry to say, Jackie is absent.

The film opens ten years before the main action to introduce us to the young protagonists and Li Hui (Sammo Hung Kam-Bo), father of Li Yi (Wei Dong) and Li Er Wu Dazhou). We discover that their mother is dead and that the boys have been living with their grandmother, though it doesn’t explain why the boys are not with their father and this is never mentioned again.

Although engaging, it did seem a bit disjointed. First we have the period when the group are all young before zooming forward ten years and the martial arts finals. In between the finals various members of the group visit the film set of a former pupil Guo Nan (Zhang Jin), where some are tempted away from the path of Wushu and go up against Ke Le (Tie Nan), who has fallen off the path completely, before a rather weak ending back at the finals. This disjointedness removes some of the weight from each of the sections, without adding to the overall story.

The NTSC to Pal conversion has left some blurring during fast sequences and there is noticeable juddering in some of the 1.78:1 anamorphic frames. The acting and direction are fine, if not actually spectacular, certainly not for a full feature. The film also suffers from a high degree of grain.

It’s not a bad film for an undiscerning viewer bracket, though older martial arts fans may find that there is not enough action for their tastes. On the plus side the writer has tried to create a story which incorporates martial arts, rather than the other way around, even if the finished product isn’t as coherent as it should have been.

The only extra on the disc is the original theatrical trailer (1 min. 55 sec). On the audio side you can listen to the film in either the original Mandarin - 2.0 DD, with subtitles - or a passable 5.1 DD English dub.


Charles Packer

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