Image via WikipediaJet Li, with his thorough mastery of various Chinese Martial Arts disciplines, had taken on many of the iconic "folk hero" roles in the history of China. In this movie, he is portraying master Huo Yuanjia, a master about the turn of the century, when Western powers and Japan are trying to push the corrupt Chinese government into more concessions by awing them with other masters.
The premise: Huo YuanJia was the youngest son of a kungfu master. The young Huo had always been way too proud of his skills, instead of learning any restraint, which eventually lead to a series of personal tragedies. He tried to commit suicide, but he survived, and lived in the wilderness as penance for a long period before coming to his senses, and returning to the city, just in time to encounter the imperialists and others trying to denigrate China. Huo was able to rally supporters into forming a Wushu association. Then the imperialists challenged him to a match, against other masters... and they want to win at ANY cost...
The martial arts are excellent as always, and this movie is not shy about showing some blood when it calls for it. AND there's a plot instead of just slash and cut and punch. There's a theme behind it, about pride, about not backing down in face of challenge, and about the true winner of spirit if not in body... and about redemption.
Allegedly Jet Li's final martial arts film (except as fantasy characters), this is a masterpiece.
Rating: Watch it!