Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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The legendary Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-Hung (or Huang Feihong as he’s spelled here, and I’ve even seen it shown as Wong Feihong) has been done a thousand times in film history. Bruce Lee once portrayed the iconic folk hero, and Jet Li immortalized him in Fist of Legend as one of the best portrayals of the Chinese freedom fighter from Japanese imperialism. Lately Vincent Zhao has been taking up the mantle of Fei-Hung’s many adventures in films like The Unity of Heroes, The Unity of Heroes 2, and Kung-Fu League. This latest tweak on the old folk epic sort of retells some of the instances of the Fist of Legend scenarios, but with a much more decidedly cartoony and comical twist.
Warriors of the Nation is very much a period piece film, forgoing the slapstick comedy of Kung-Fu League, and bringing us back to the Qing Dynasty as the Chinese are starting to rise up and throw off the mantle of Japanese Imperialism that has been shoved down their throats for so many years. The film follows Huang Feihong as he is promoted to chief martial arts trainer for the imperial army as they stand up against the Japanese fleet. However, one of the chief officials of the war, one Officer Zhang, is captured by the treacherous White Lotus society (who ends up being a front for the Japanese infiltrators), only for a duplicitous court official to leave him hanging.
Not ready to let the war effort go down in vain, Huang and his student Kuan set out to be rescue Zhang before it’s too late. The more Huang digs into the instances of the kidnapping, the more he realizes that there is something darker at play here. Everything leads back to the Japanese at the heart of it all, and if they get their hands on Zhang’s gold seal, they can break the sea barricade that the Chinese have put up around the borders of the nation and end the war before it’s even started.
Action is high flying Wuxia wire work, but sadly the choreography isn’t the greatest. Vincent Zhao does a solid job as Feihong, but the fight choreography and some of the CGI used for blood spray sort of standout. The choreographer had the fights at a super slow pace, and some of the slo-mo effects really highlighted how badly they were framed. That being said, the movie itself moves along at a brisk pace, and the film’s length is kept to a solid 95 minutes (including trailers), instead of trying to make it a 2+ hour epic film. It works, but just barely, and while I had a decent time, I was struggling to not look at how much time was left on the clock while doing so.
Not Rated by the MPAA
• Well Go USA Trailers
I’m a HUGE fan of Huang Feihong and his various incarnations over the years (everyone from Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, to Jet Li has played him over the years), but this one kind of let me down a bit. I liked Kung-Fu Legend as a sort of goofy comedy movie, but as a period piece film Warriors of the Nation was kind of lacking. The action was ok, but the pacing was off, but Vincent Zhao is still excellent as the legendary warrior. Well Go USA’s Blu-ray release is solid, with good video, great audio, but the typical weak extras we’ve come to expect from these imported films. If you’re a big fan of Feihong it might be a good watch, otherwise I’d just keep it as a rental for martial arts fans.
Starring: Whenzhuo Zhao (Vincent Zhao), Lubing Li, Miya Muqi, Kenya Sawada, Na Wei
Directed by: Marco Mak
Written by: Yuhao Gao, Zhenyi Li, Xinyao Niu, Ning Yang
Aspect Ratio: 2.35::1 AVC
Audio: Mandarin: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Mandarin DD 2.0
Studio: Well Go USA
Runtime: 95 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: February 18th, 2020
Recommendation: Rental for Martial Arts Fans