Legend of the Wolf was one of Donnie’s babies as he directed, produced, wrote, and starred in

It really sucks whenever films are re-titled in the U.S. Let’s take this film for example, originally it was called Legend of the Wolf (Vietnamese name: HUYEN THOAI SON TAC). But to at least gain a little bit of popularity, and money on the side, they renamed it to The New Big Boss.

It could’ve been a good move, probably, but it gives expectations. That doesn’t relate to the original The Big Boss starring one of the heavy weights in Asian kung fu, Bruce Lee. This one features a talented individual, Donnie Yen.

In a narration cum flashback type of story telling, his old-time friend recounts our hero’s tale. It shows us the power of our hero, who is known as the wolf. Through that tale when he fought with a lot of gangsters using only his ability as a martial artist. He keeps on fighting them, along with the hero’s friend and the people in the village, finding out his true identity in the end.

The tricky thing about martial art films is, usually, the story is just a secondary part of the movie Legend of the Wolf.

Frequently they focus on the fight scenes, which include a lot of choreography. The moves should somehow be new to the viewer. Or if the film is going to project something that was used before be sure to show it in a different angle.

One part of the film that I had interest in is the part where Donnie Yen is showing his “fast hands” prowess. And there were scenes that showed blood. Which was quite different especially when he was slashing out the gangsters. It wasn’t as hardcore as the American movies. But it was really quite different from the Hong Kong films that I am used to. That like movies coming from Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, or Samo Hung.

I like “Legend of the Wolf” a lot. The plot’s standard, the directing is passable, the budget obviously wasn’t very high. And even the “artistic” way in which the movie unfolds, via incongrous flashbacks within flashbacks, doesn’t really help things.

But all that aside, you still have a fairly decent movie with excellent action. Each kung-fu battle is good enough to be the “end fight” in any other martial arts film. The shots are sometimes too close or too blurry, and the editing is as jarring as MTV’s. But it still looks great.

Donnie pulls a “Van Damme” here, with plenty shots of himself bare-chested and flexing.

But I’m sure that’s just for the ladies, right, Donnie? Anyway, he pulls off some impressive martial arts. He starts the film doing a basic movie style, but as the film progresses he adopts what seems to be a jeet kune do approach. Even mimicking Bruce Lee’s war cries. Perhaps this is why Legend of the Wolf is call “The New Big Boss” in parts of the UK.

Just about every fight in this movie is a highlight, but the best is the sequence. That begins with Donnie chasing through a forest after his enemies, and culminates in him taking on his main rival beside a waterfall.

The running fight in the forest is one of the best Hong Kong action sequences ever. That with Donnie taking on legions of henchmen, a guy with a revolver, and a guy who fights with claws. The sequence proves that there’s still some amazing things going on in Hong Kong cinema.

As an aside, the dvd release is terrible; it’s full-frame with no menu selections or extras.

Plus the subs are burn into the print, just like they were back in the pre-dvd days. At least the chapters are numbers, so you can skip from fight to fight, cutting out the extraneous moments of “plot advancement” and getting right to the good stuff.

It felt that this movie Legend of the Wolf, that was one of Donnie’s babies as he directed, produced, wrote, and starred in. The narration parts of the film were noir-ish in nature. It look funny on most scenes but the clincher of an ending provide a fairly questionable move

It might be really funny for the older audience and quite admirable. That for the younger ones nonetheless the effort in the production and such proved that Donnie can be trust with something big. As he prove it with the now impressive films: The Twins Effect, IP Man, and IP Man 2.

INFO:

Rating: NR
Genre: Action & Adventure, Art House & International, Drama
Directed By: Donnie Yen
Written By: Donnie Yen, Cub Chin
In Theaters: Jun 14, 1997 Wide
On Disc/Streaming: Jan 6, 2004
Runtime: 92 minutes
Studio: My Way Film Company

AUDIENCE REVIEWS FOR LEGEND OF THE WOLF

John A
Donnie Yen’s Directorial Debut Is A Martial Arts Drama, Based Just After The Japanese Occupation of China. This Film Is Slow Methodical And Wonderfully Choreographed. The Whole 90’s Bookends Wasn’t Needed In My Opinion.

Steve W
A decent storyline and great action choreography is ruined by some bad camera work and choppy editing. The movie’s only real good part is the action climax.

Garrett S
This moovie is off the hook great action Donnie yen does it yet again

Joe C
The fight scene with the guy with claws in the woods is stunning.

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