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Once Upon a Time
in China & America
   |     review    |     awards     |     availability     |     also see      |
Jet Li goes native
  
AKA: Once Upon a Time in China 6
Chinese: 黃飛鴻之西域雄獅
Year: 1997
Director: Sammo Hung Kam-Bo
Producer: Tsui Hark
Action: Sammo Hung Kam-Bo
Cast: Jet Li Lian-Jie, Rosamund Kwan Chi-Lam, Xiong Xin-Xin, Chan Kwok-Bong, Richard Ng Yiu-Hon, Jeff Wolfe, Lung Kong, Roger Yuan, Patrick Lung Kong, Lau Kar-Wing, Mars
The Skinny: Entertaining and workable kung-fu epic that's notable for the return of Jet Li and some truly awful acting from most of the cast.
 
Review
by Kozo:

Jet Liís much-heralded return as Wong Fei-Hong is in a respectably solid, if not well-acted, kung-fu western. Plot: Wong Fei-Hong travels with Aunt Yee (Rosamund Kwan), and Clubfoot (Xiong Xin-Xin) to America to visit Buck Tooth Sol (this time played by Chan Kwok-Bong, who essayed the character in the TV serial), in a U.S. branch of Po Chi Lam.

Along the way, the group picks up a righteous gunslinger called Billy, whoís played by the blonde and not-so-great Jeff Wolfe. Things go bad during a raid on their wagon train, Wong loses his memory and falls in with the Native Americans. Yee and Clubfoot meet up with Sol, but they canít find Fei-Hong. Meanwhile, baddies plot to act badly and rob banks.

The film's storyline seems entirely geared toward finding a bad guy to beat up in the second hour. When said bad guy appears, he's able to do some semi-decent kung-fu, which requires some suspension of disbelief but not enough to make the film less than enjoyable. Essentially the film is plotless, which is not surprising since this was a Tsui Hark production directed by Sammo Hung. At the very least, Jet Li shows some terrific presence and charisma. Despite Zhao Wen-Zhouís excellent (and even underrated) take on Wong Fei-Hong, the role is really Liís.

Ultimately, this is an entertaining film that suffers from an unfocused plot and some incredibly bad acting from the usual suspects (unknown gweilo actors). Strange as it is, of the three big New Yearís movies this year (the other two being Mr. Nice Guy and Allís Well, Endís Well '97), this is easily the best one. It's a rarity when a Jet Li film can top both Jackie Chan and Stephen Chow, but they managed to pull that off here. (Kozo 1997)

 
Awards: 17th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
Nomination - Best Action Choreography (Sammo Hung Kam-Bo)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Kam & Ronson
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 6.1 / DTS 6.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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 V (1994)
Last Hero in China (1993)

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image courtesy of Chinastar Entertainment Group

   
 
 
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