Once Upon A Time In China II (1992)
This power-packed sequel to Once Upon A Time in China has Wong Fei-Hung fight the White Lotus society to bring peace to China.
Written and directed by Hong Kong film director, producer and screenwriter Tsui Hark, with action choreography by Yuen Woo-ping, Once Upon A Time in China II (1992) sees Jet Li continue his homage to Chinese martial arts legend, teacher, physician and folk hero, Wong Fei Hung and again with the beautiful Rosamund Kwan as his romantic interest.
China in 1895 during the Qing dynasty is seething with tensions as plots to overthrow imperialism and xenophobic violence against foreigners destabilise the community. Wong Fei-hung is forced to battle the brutal and fanatical White Lotus Sect and the government forces as he tries to retain his sense of normalcy amidst the chaos around him. Of course, there is the dynamic of unrequited love, heightened nationalism and a healthy dose of slapstick humour that act as an effective counterpoint to the intense and often gripping combats.
Of course, there is the dynamic of unrequited love, heightened nationalism and a healthy dose of slapstick humour that act as an effective counterpoint to the intense and often gripping combats.
This time some of the best fights are with the incredibly fast and deadly Donnie Yen (who went on to global stardom through the enormously successful Ip Man series of films) as military officer, Nap-lan Yun-seut. There is one sequence where Yen dips a massive garment into a bowl of water then stretches the garment out with great power and speed, squeezing the water out and making the garment harder than rope, straighter than a stick and turning it into a deadly weapon. Needless to say, the two fight sequences between Jet Li and Donnie Yen are the clear highlights in the whole film.
There is a higher level of virtuosity in the fights than in the film that preceded it, more complex political overtones and upheavals, as well as improved production values that combine to make this sequel a more riveting watch (and a better box office performer) than the first.
If you haven’t seen any of the incredibly entertaining films in the Once Upon A Time in China series, and if you could only watch one, then surely this would be it!