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Once Upon a Time in China V
   |     review    |     also see      |

Zhao Wen-Zhou as Wong Fei-Hong
  
Chinese: 黃飛鴻V : 龍城殲霸
Year: 1994
Director: Tsui Hark
Action: Yuen Bun
Cast: Zhao Wen-Zhou, Rosamund Kwan Chi-Lam, Max Mok Siu-Chung, Kent Cheng Juk-Si, Xiong Xin-Xin, Lau Shun, Roger Kwok Chun-On, Jean Wang Ching-Ying, Tam Bing-Man, Stephen Tung Wai
The Skinny: Entertaining entry in the popular series that jettisons the usual politically-themed storyline for a more typical action-adventure plot.
 
Review
by Kozo:

Zhao Wen-Zhouís second outing as Wong Fei-Hong finds Fei-Hong battling pirates, corrupt government officials, and wacky romantic subplots. Tsui Hark returns to the director's chair and Rosamund Kwan returns as Aunt Yee. Once Upon a Time in China 5 picks up where the last left off, as Fei-Hong and entourage are on their way to a meeting with Aunt Yee. However, since he has Aunt May (Jean Wong) in tow from the last film, we get a possible love triangle. That bit of comedic happenstance is handled in the usual Tsui Hark manner, i.e. mistaken intentions, switched signals, and more than a little slapstick. 

Then the real plot kicks in: the town they're residing in is under siege from evil pirates led by Stephen Tung. Fei-Hong and the group decide to help out the townspeople, leading to lots of fighting and group shenanigans. Leung Fu (Max Mok), Club Foot (Xiong Xin-Xin), and dad Wong Kei-Ying (Lau Shun) return, and are joined by Porky Lang (Kent Cheng) and Buck Tooth Sol (Roger Kwok replacing Jacky Cheung), both who've been missing since the first installment. What that means is a full peanut gallery exists for all the hijinks and group squabbles that Tsui Hark loves to inject in his movies. Whether we care for them in another matter entirely.

Still, the heart of all these films are the action and story, and those are solid in this film. The politics of the previous films have been replaced by more universal themes, i.e. love, sisterhood, justice, and the follies of greed (the bastard who overcharges on rice because heís the only rice guy in town). The narrative is pared down, not bothering to hang around for large exposition like its predecessors did. What that means is the movie works as standard entertainment, and not as the usual political history lesson that Tsui usually gives us. The change works, as the production is good, with great set pieces and even some two-gun action (really!). In the Once Upon a Time in China series, OUATIC5 is probably the least resonant. However, it's probably one of the more fun ones. (Kozo 1995)

 
Also see:

Once Upon a Time in China (1991)
Once Upon a Time in China II (1992)
Once Upon a Time in China III (1993)
Once Upon a Time in China IV (1993)
Once Upon a Time in China & America (1997)
Last Hero in China (1993)

image courtesy of Universe Laser & Video Co., Ltd.

   
 
 
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