So I have been feeling a little down and out of sorts these last couple of weeks. Nothing especially wrong, probably just the onset of those winter blues. So the opportunity comes along to watch a film with my best friend, and I am so glad we chose this. Smiles all round, and suddenly life seems a little rosier.
“Wing Chun” is a glorious little fantasy comedy kung-fu movie. WhilstMichelle Yeoh plays the titular character – a Kung Fu Master who gets involved in all kinds of shenanigans in her local village with some bandits, along with the re-emergence of a childhood sweetheart (Donnie Yen).
The film is funny and light and breezy. There are crazy fight scenes, pantomime level farce, a somewhat surreal ending - all those things that make 1990's Hong Kong Cinema such a delight.
Directed by Woo-ping Yeun (a regular here at Things Fall Apart), the film moves forward with pace, mixing up the outstanding action with no little character development and a huge sense of fun. Yes, some of the humour is a little juvenile (and some translates as a little distasteful), but it avoids ever outstaying it's welcome. Even a character such as King-Tan Yuen's Abacus Fong would normally grate due to too much screen time, but here it just uses her a suitable comic foil for the somewhat more serious Wing Chun. We even get a small cameo by Pei-pei Cheng, which actually could do with being a little longer (Actually, thinking about this a little more, both Michelle and Pei-Pei were both originally dancers rather than trained martial artists – so this makes the relationship of master and pupil even more relevant).
Yeoh is a total star, she has an ability not just to be strong and bad-ass, but also she can portray a sensitive and vulnerable side. You see the hurt in her face when she realises her childhood sweetheart has mistaken another girl for her, and you sense what she has given up as a woman to continue on her life journey.
If anything, the film is maybe a little too short, the film ends needing just a little more than the short ending it gets, but nothing is ever truly perfect.
There is another film to be made here though – a more realistic (or at least accurate) bio-pic telling the tale of this woman – for without her, you would have had no Ip Man, and onwards maybe no Bruce Lee.
I would actually think this is a good film to choose if embarking on this era of Hong King Cinema – the comedy is multi-cultural, and the action is high-concept. Highly Recommended.