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The Avenging Fist
Chinese: 拳神  
AKA: In the Name of Heroes
Wang Lee-Hom and Stephen Fung
Year: 2001
Director: Andrew Lau Wai-Keung, Corey Yuen
Producer: Wong Jing
Cast: Leehom Wang, Stephen Fung Tak-Lun, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Gigi Leung Wing-Kei, Kristy Yeung Kung-Yu, Yuen Biao, Cecilia Yip Tung, Chin Kar-Lok, Roy Cheung Yiu-Yeung, Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin, Ron Smoorenburg
The Skinny: Cool special effects and retro stars give life to this otherwise empty and useless sci-fi spectacle.
   
Review
by Kozo:

Hey kids! Special effects and fighting! The litigated Tekken movie resurfaces as The Avenging Fist, an action sci-fi spectacle that is as visually packed as The Storm Riders and just as silly as Hot WarAlexander Wang stars as Nova, a butt-kicking teen who spends his days watching street fighting matches and lusting after virtual idol Erika (Gigi Leung). He and twin sister Belle (Kristy Yeung) are children to Auntie Wing (Cecilia Yip), who is trying to protect her children from the legacy of The Avenging Fist.

The story goes like this: years ago, her husband Thunder (Yuen Biao) devised a martial art called The Avenging Fist, which is meant to unlock the other 90% of the human potential that most people never use. Technology has tried to do the same with a device called The Power Glove, but its effects have proven ill to a select number of people, among them Police Inspector Dark (Sammo Hung), evil bastard Combat 21 (Roy Cheung), and the now-deceased Thunder. Now that Combat 21 is making a return, it seems that only Nova and The Avenging Fist can save them. 

Wong Jing was responsible for bringing us this "story" and it shows. Long a fan of video games (Anyone see the egregious Future Cops?), Wong manages to put together a team that brings the right video game look to this glossy spectacle. Utilizing extensive CGI and a production design motif that can only be called "neon warehouse," the filmmakers have managed to create a strange Blade Runner-like future with multi-colored eye candy to spare. The over-the-top design is quite welcome, as it puts us in the right mood for the action fluff to follow.

The action is Corey Yuen's department, but his trademark fluid choreography is muted beneath camera tricks and CGI. What's left is serviceable enough fighting, but it's certainly not the main attraction here. With that gone, the only remaining draw is spectacle, which we get though you have to wonder if it's enough. Sure the CGI landscape is interesting and the costumes attractive, but without a proper story to tie everything together, the final result is just a well-produced mishmash of comic book platitudes and overused plot devices. At least The Storm Riders had an extensive comic book mythology to play with. The Avenging Fist is based on a video game, and it really shows.

The presence of old-time kung-fu stars Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao is probably the biggest hook for the HK Cinemaphile. The two are certainly a welcome sight onscreen, and each makes the most of their screen time. Yuen, in particular, shows that he's still got some stuff left even when he takes a backseat to popstars Alexander Wang and Stephen Fung (as Nova's friend/rival Iron Surfer). The cast uniformly does what they can with the material, slight though it is. One can only hope that Hong Kong will spend as much time polishing their scripts as their special effects. While I expect to see more films out of HK like The Avenging Fist, I sincerely hope that they all don't turn out this way. (Kozo 2002)

   
Notes: • Even though this film started out as the Tekken movie, it's hard to imagine how it could be related to it. Wang Lee-Hom's Nova and Kristy Yeung's Belle resemble the brother-sister duo of Jin and Jun Kazama, while Stephen Fung's Iron Surfer is an obvious stand-in for Hworang. No other obvious doppelgangers exist.
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Deltamac
Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / Dolby Digital ES 6.1 / DTS
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
 

image courtesy of Deltamac Co., Ltd.

   
   
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