WU XIA Review
In many ways, director Peter Chan Ho-sun's WU XIA has redefined the martial arts genre. His intention to create something unique and special is clear, and to a large extent, he has succeeded. The first half of the film involves the investigation of the deaths of two notorious criminals who are highly skilled fighters. The dissection of the fight scenes, which takes place in the investigator's mind, uses science to explain the injuries, and is a highly innovative way to tell the story.
After a strong start, the movie goes into action overdrive in the second half. Action fans will no doubt be very satisfied by the spectacular fight scenes, which are played, designed and choreographed by Donnie Yen himself. They are certainly up to the usual high standards that audiences have come to expect from him. The most interesting thing about Yen's performance here is that he seems to spend just as much time in scenes that involve drama as ones that involve fighting. He actually gives a most credible performance, which might be sadly overlooked because the action scenes are so attention-grabbing.
Takeshi Kaneshiro (RED CLIFF, WARLORDS, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS) plays the investigator and gives an entertaining performance, while Tang Wei (LUST, CAUTION) is good to watch but appears somewhat restricted by her role as an ordinary woman living in a small village. One very pleasant surprise is the inclusion of Wai Yin-hung in the cast. She is an experienced actress and martial artist, who has been playing mostly dramatic roles recently and it is great to see her in action again.
WU XIA is a gorgeously and gloriously filmed martial arts film. It has top notch production values and some breathtaking action sequences. What impresses the most is the determination to create something new, something different and something original. It would have been nice to see the approach to the early action scenes also adopted in the second half of the movie, but this is just minor quibble for an otherwise wonderful film that can easily be considered a new martial arts classic.
WU XIA is distributed in Australia by Pinnacle Films, and will be available on DVD from December.