Early in the trailer for Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, the viewer is greeted with an onslaught of credentials: Official Selection at the Venice Film Festival; Official Selection for the Toronto International Film Festival; Official Selection for Fantastic Fest (“The Comic Con of film festivals,” its website boasts).
And yet, none of those accolades held a candle to the first thirty seconds of the trailer itself. Is ‘Wow’ too strong a word?
It is France, 1917. Armed with only a knife, a lone Chinese man named Chen Zhen spectacularly takes out a German machine gunner in one of the more impressive opening salvos in recent trailer history. I specify a lone man and not soldier because, as far as I can tell, the Chinese government never sent any personnel beyond laborers. Regardless, the scene is pure action.
Cut to Shanghai, eight years later, which seems to strike a tenuous balance between the glitz of Manhattan and the militarism of a regime. The middle of the trailer becomes bogged down in vague implications of mob activity and the intrusion of Japan onto mainland China. Although it is at this point that Chen Zhen realizes his destiny, leading to another great burst of action, the pacing languishes.
This trailer makes me want to see this movie, plain and simple. The snippets of combat are enticing, but there is a concern that like so many martial arts movies, there can be too much of a good thing. Nonetheless, the trailer for Legend of the Fist is exciting and has the potential to be a lot of fun in the theaters.
Legend of the Fist will be in theaters April 22nd and is directed by Wai-Keung Lau.