Friday, 21 November 2014
Fist of Legend (4½ Stars)
This is a remake of "Fist of Fury", which I reviewed earlier today. Sort of a remake. Although I know both films well, today is the first time I've watched them back to back, and I've only just noticed how different they are.
The main character is Chen Zhen, and just as in the original film he returns to Shanghai to find his master dead from poison. That's where the similarity ends. He doesn't even set out on a quest to take revenge, although in the end he does face the one responsible for his master's death. Let me point out all the main differences. I'll refer to the two films as Fury and Legend (without quotes) for the sake of brevity.
The main difference, which is supported by many of the minor differences that I shall show below, is in the film's attitude toward the Japanese. Legend was made in 1994, 22 years after Fury. Legend has less prejudice against the Japanese. Instead of all Japanese being evil, it shows that there are good and bad among them.
Fury takes place in 1908. Legend takes place in 1937.
In Fury Chen's absence from Shanghai is unexplained. In Legend we see Chen studying engineering in Kyoto. He can read and write Japanese. In Fury Chen presents himself as a simple, uneducated man, but that obviously isn't the case in Legend.
In Legend Chen dresses in Japanese clothes, and when he returns to Shanghai he's frequently mistaken for a Japanese man.
In Legend Chen has a Japanese girlfriend.
In Fury the cook who poisons the master is a Japanese infiltrator. In Legend the cook is a Chinese man who has taken a bribe from a Japanese general.
In Fury Chen presents Chinese fighting styles as superior to Japanese karate and all other foreign styles. In Legend he openly admits that he has assimilated the best features of karate into his style. He also frequently uses the footwork and posture of western boxing.
In Fury the teachers of the Japanese fighting schools look down on the Chinese masters as inferior. In Legend they are spiritual men who respect the Chinese masters and only fight fairly.
In Legend the man who takes over as the new master of the Jing Wu school is a flawed character. Rather than staying in the school to encourage his students he spends time in a brothel. I don't believe that there was a replacement for the dead master in Fury.
In Fury the Japanese ambassador is an evil man who wants to destroy the Chinese. In Legend the ambassador is a good man who wants peace between Japan and China. In Legend the ambassador is responsible for saving Chen's life, whereas Chen dies in Fury.
Apart from these there are many small differences, such as minor supporting characters only being present in one of the two films. For instance, there is no Russian fighter in Legend, but the Chinese general does things that we saw the Russian do in Fury.
To sum up, both films are good in their own way. But I prefer "Fist of Fury".