Chan Tai Lee, Edmond Wong
Dave Bautista, Tony Jaa, Liu Yan, Michelle Yeoh, Max Zhang
Well Go USA Entertainment
Martial artist Cheung Tin-chi (Max Zhang, AKA Zhang Jin) once took on the legendary Ip Man, but lost to the Wing Chun master’s “one-inch punch.” He’s now living the simple life, running a grocery store and caring for his little son Fung. Then he steps in to protect opium addict Nana (Chrissie Chau) and her friend Julia (Liu Yan) from a gang of thugs, and gets on the bad side of their leader, drug dealer Tso Sai Kit (Kevin Cheng). Their escalating rivalry brings Tin-chi into the orbit of Julia’s brother Fu (Naason), who gives Tin-chi a job in his Gold Bar; Kit’s triad boss sister Tso Ngan Kwan (Michelle Yeoh), whose desire to go into legitimate business doesn’t sit well with Kit; and Owen Davidson (Dave Bautista), a restaurateur whose steak house covers for his heroin trade. More conflicts are inevitable, which can only be solved with liberal applications of fists, feet and blades.
Return with us now to Fantasia’s glory days of yesteryear, when movies like MASTER Z: IP MAN LEGACY were coming out of Hong Kong with regularity and this fest showcased the best of ’em. With the incomparable Yuen Woo-ping, director of classics like the original DRUNKEN MASTER, TAI CHI MASTER and IRON MONKEY, and action/martial arts choreographer on everything from the first two ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA movies and CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON to the MATRIX and KILL BILL films, at the helm, it’s a glorious throwback to those wuxia/wirework favourites. From its lush, eye-filling period settings and cinematography to its imaginative, rousing fight set pieces, MASTER Z is proof that they do make ’em like they used to. Rising star Zhang makes a strong and charismatic impression, and seeing Yeoh, who’s quite affecting in MASTER Z’s most complex role, effortlessly demonstrate that she can still kick ass in her fifties is worth the price of admission. – Michael Gingold
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