Donnie Yen brings back the character Chen Zhen - first portrayed by Bruce Lee in Fists of Fury - in this great piece of Pulp Cinema.
Chen Zhen was part of the Chinese units fighting in the Great War. They fought in service units - 150,000 men were sent to the front lines by the Chinese government - most had no military training, yet were there in battle supporting the allies. They carried artillery shells and dug trenches, hauled dead and suffered heavy casualties.
When his unit falls under heavy sniper and machine-gun fire, Chen Zhen snaps. He takes out the whole sniper squad and he and the survivors of his unit finally get to go back to Shanghai.
Despite the aid given the allies in the war, by 1925, China stood alone against a building Japanese invasion. There were student protests and isolated pockets of resistance, but Chen Zhen tried to stay out of it. But finally, the slights and comments and pushing around got to be too much and Chen Zhen snapped.
Swiping a costume from a display case outside a popular cinema, Chen Zhen dons the costume of the Masked Warrior (not to be confused with Kato's outfit) and takes the attack to the heart of the Japanese aggressors.
The action is terrific, the cinematography is first class, the story is compelling, and Donnie Yen proves himself to be a great star in this film directed by Andrew Lau, best known for Infernal Affairs. The supporting cast is great, especially the lovely ingenue played by Qi Shu.
The historical setting of the Japanese incursion into China, just as the Provinces are trying to unify, lends weight and depth to the story in a very pleasing manner; giving weight to the action and justification for the fights.
I give Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen a 9 out of 10. This is a great pulp film.