ITV4: Saturday 17 October, 11.05pm
In a four-against-one fight as rigged as an Italian football match, wushu champion Jet Li stands up for China’s pride in the face of Western derision. Li’s character is Huo Yuanjia, the man who unified China’s martial arts houses under the auspices of Shanghai’s Jingwu Sports Federation in the early 1900s.
Wushu is not about winning. It’s about discipline and respect. And it’s certainly not about revenge. Though Li reveals it can also be about redemption. The legendary real-life story of Huo Yuanjia is surprisingly moving as Li learns that victory can come at far too high a price.
Combatting brute strength with balletic grace and skill, Li is also a more compelling screen presence than Bruce Lee ever was. He doesn’t so much run rings around opponents as dazzle them with dance moves, the merest trace of a smirk on his face at their bad grace in defeat.
Li’s since announced his retirement from martial arts movies, which is a shame (particularly if it means not-worth-the-effort cameos in Sly Stallone’s aptly named Expendables series). The percussive music’s terrific, by the way. And the real Li’s also on show in 2007’s War (Sky Movies Action/Adventure:Tuesday, 12.45am), alongside another wasted Expendable, Jason Statham.
The original title was Rogue Assassin, which makes more sense than the hopelessly generic and inaccurate War. Especially as Jet Li’s Yakuza assassin is called Rogue. Statham is FBI man Jack Crawford, presumably not the same Jack Crawford who was Clarice Starling’s boss in Silence of the Lambs. With Chaos-like twists, the plot is irrelevantly complicated. But it’s a mighty bloody business, that’s for sure.
|Other Showings||Time & Date|
|ITV4||Thursday, 22 October at 11:40PM|