Once Upon a Time in China II
(Wong Fei-hung ji yi: Naam yi dong ji keung) (1992)
Directed by Tsui Hark

Artistic & Entertainment Value
* * *

DVD In Association with
Rent DVDs online!
In the USA:
Try Netflix For Free.In the UK:

In the final years of the Ch'ing dynasty, martial arts expert and physician Wong Fei-Hung (Jet Li) escorts Cousin Yee (Rosamund Kwan) and one of his pupils to a medical conference in Canton, where he becomes embroiled in the conflicts between the government, an anti-Western secret society called the White Lotus Sect, and revolutionaries led by Sun Yat-Sen

Tsui Hark's Once Upon a Time in China II is a visually attractive and exciting film. The action sequences are consistently well realized. The sets and costumes are alike beautiful and evocative of a bygone age. The narrative, unlike that of its nearly incoherent predecessor, is comprehensible, and the comedic elements, which are largely confined to the film's beginning, in which they are dominant, are neither as inane nor as intrusive as are the attempts at humor in the first movie. Admittedly, the film does include the occasional maudlin incident, especially towards its end, and a number of heavy-handed political points are made throughout, but these are all little more than momentary distractions. Even the acting is decent.

Most importantly, the fight sequences, which constitute a substantial part of the movie, are consistently enjoyable, exciting, and skillfully performed. Despite their prevalence, they do not, however, overwhelm the narrative so that it becomes merely an excuse by which such sequences are introduced. By assisting in the development of the story, they actually add to the drama.

Lastly, I should say that through the course of the movie, Jet Li proves himself to be a decent actor and shows real skill at performing the elaborately choreographed fights with which the story is punctuated. The other actors also acquit themselves well, and, as a consequence, the dreadful acting which is a frequent distraction in Hong Kong films never becomes an issue.

While hardly a great movie, Once Upon a Time in China II is not only entertaining but also an improvement upon its predecessor.

Review by Keith Allen

Home Page / Alphabetical List of Films
List of Films by Star Ratings
Aesthetic Principles / Guide to Ratings
Criteria for Inclusion / DVD Stores / Blog

© 2004 Keith Allen. All rights reserved.
Revised 2005

Click Here

banner 2