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Movie: Wu Xia (2011)

Wu Xia (2011) is a Hong Kong and China martial arts movie directed by renowned Hong Kong director Peter Ho-sun Chan and Donnie Yen as the movie's leading actor and action director.

Synopsis adapted from here: Liu Jin-xi (Donnie Yen) has settled in an idyllic, hospitable village in Yunnan for ten years after marrying single mother Ayu (Tang Wei). The peaceful life of his family of four is disturbed when he accidentally kills two robbers who threaten his paper workshop. The incident has detective Xu Bai-jiu (Takeshi Kaneshiro) sniffing in his backyard. Xu found out that Liu's real identity is Tang Long, a runaway member of the 72 Demons, a dwindling clan of Tanguts (former rulers of China's neighboring Xixia kingdom) for whom rape, pillage and massacre are a way of life.

Here are my point of view about the winning elements of this movie:

1. Heart-pounding action choreography: Donnie Yen is the movie's action director, so you can expect awesome action sequences. You'll be in awe with close-contact combats - they're shot in slow-mo graphical style, thus enhancing the intensity and brutality of each single blow that aims to either stun, maim or kill.

2. Unusual storyline: I really love the way the story is presented. In order to find out how Liu Jin-xi, an ordinary countryman could defeat two dangerous criminals, county detective Xu Bai-jiu conducts different methods of investigation, including exploring his knowledge in forensic science, physics, acupuncture, and martial arts principles. It's like attending biology classes again!

3. Interesting characters: Essentially, it's Liu Jin-xi versus Xu Bai-jiu. The former is an ex-convict turning over a new leaf. The latter is an upright county detective, he's my favorite character in this movie. Xu's investigation becomes a personal moral and intellectual quest and he's constantly in an emotional dilemma - should he uphold the law without compromise or should he give in to redemption and compassion? He has his own past demons to face and somehow we can empathize with his predicament.

4. Special appearances of legendary action star: Jimmy Wang Yu appears as the brutal and fearsome Master of 72 Demons and Kara Hui as a fierce female member of the clan.


5. Breathtaking cinematography: The luscious green of bamboo bushes, the glowing yellow of gentle hill slopes, the angry falls of waterfall, the serenity of still waters, etc - everything in the ethnically-rich Yunnan province - are all portrayed in such intensity that your feelings will either soar and drop with each scenery.

Verdict: Highly recommended for all Donnie Yen fans and non-fans alike. :)


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