Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kungfu Wingchun (功夫咏春)

Something Waiting to Happen

As the film industry in Hong Kong has demonstrated, milk the cash cow! From Mr Vampire flicks and its spin offs to the slew of King of Gambler type films, once a successful formula is spotted, we're going to see a whole range of good, and bad projects that are adamant to emulate something that resonated, until audiences say enough is enough. With the success of the Ip Man films, films about Wing Chun or Ip Man are sprouting up like wild flowers, and the filmmakers of Kungfu Wingchun has spotted a niche that's yet to be exploited, and that's the telling of the tale about how this martial arts came about.

Touted as a feminine form of martial arts for its origins as reportedly recounted by Ip Man, the film adopts from this same account for the first half at least, before boring down to expand the mythos with menacing Qing officials looking toward fame and glory by exterminating the last of all Shaolin affiliated martial arts practitioners. It's a tale of two halves, the first of which is more interesting for the origin story, before the second half action sequence takes over. But that's not to say that the sum of it all is something worthwhile of your time. In fact it's quite schizophrenic, and the production values remain unfortunately questionable and choppy.

Bai Jing stars as Yim Wing Chun, the sassy, tomboyish lass who gives her neighbours and friends a hard time since she's semi-skilled in Shaolin kungfu. The rich town bully takes a fancy to her, and decides that they should get married, if not for Wing Chun's dad to issue a challenge that her hand in marriage will be given should the bully defeat her in combat. Wing Chun's no match, but the abbess Ng Mui (Kara Hui, one time Shaw Bros legend last seen in At the End of Daybreak by Malaysian filmmaker Ho Yuhang) assists her and teaches her a new brand of martial arts. Wing Chun emerges victorious, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But just having to play out this storyline isn't that interesting, isn't it? So the filmmakers decide to bloat it with the addition of Collin Chou as a villain, so that our heroine can showcase more of her moves. Don't expect very polished Wing Chun patterns though, since she's just starting out, and probably what would be the best scenes here involve Ng Mui's instruction to Wing Chun, and some of the fight scenes with violence resembling the old school Shaw Bros kungfu movies. To get there however you have to endure some painful dialogue, and very much everything in the first half that deals with establishing the Leung Bak Chou (Yu Shaoqun) being the reluctant husband to be, who also happens to be a tea connoisseur. Plenty of unnecessary narrative fat to be trimmed away, which could have made the film mediocrely decent.

You can read my review of Kungfu Wingchun at by clicking on the logo below.


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