The New Legend of Shaolin
The New Legend of Shaolin (Chinese: 洪熙官之少林五祖; pinyin: Hóng Xīguān Zhī Shàolín Wǔ Zǔ; released in the United Kingdom as Legend of the Red Dragon) is a 1994 Hong Kong martial arts film directed by Wong Jing and Corey Yuen, and produced by Jet Li, who also starred in the lead role. The film was released in the Hong Kong on 3 March 1994. This film showcases Hung Hei-kwun's exploits as a rebel against the Qing government. This is one of two films in which Li and Miu Tse play a father-son duo, the other being My Father Is a Hero.
|The New Legend of Shaolin|
|Directed by||Wong Jing|
|Produced by||Helen Li|
|Written by||Wong Jing|
|Music by||Eckart Seeber|
|Edited by||Angie Lam|
|Distributed by||Eastern Productions|
Hung Hei-kwun arrives in his village after a raid by government soldiers, only to find his whole village destroyed. Hung Hei-kwun quickly finds his infant son and gives him a choice between death and joining him in the rebellion. Upon leaving his village he encounters Ma Ling-yee, who is also supposed to be involved in the rebellion; he learns that Ling-yee had betrayed him and their village for the bounty on Hei-kwun's head. After an epic battle, the film skips ahead several years and arrives with Hung Hei-kwun and his now-skilled son making their way through China in order to find money for food. At this time, the film introduces "Red Bean", who is in the process of swindling a very rich man, Ma Kai-sin, out of his money. Kwun tries to leave his son in the care of his brother but is betrayed, forcing him to kill his brother. The rich man, witnessing the carnage done by Kwun, hires Hung Hei-Kwun as a bodyguard. Initially he wants Kwun to help him bully and steal from others; Kwun refuses the offer but decides to be his bodyguard instead because he and Man Ting, his son, ran out of money.
At the same time the government has begun to crack down on Shaolin. Pieces of a map are tattooed onto the backs of several pupils, who are then removed from the temple in order to keep safe the Ming Dynasty treasure the map leads to. Years ago, Hung Hei-kwun's encounter with the money hungry Ma Ling-yee did not end as Hung thought it did: Ma Ling-yee survived the fight as a result of being dipped in poison and restored by The Monk of the West District. Now a disgusting creature, his only purpose for life is to get revenge and kill Hei-kwun. The government massacres Shaolin, while Ma Ling-yee himself kills the abbot. Thereafter, he begins the hunt for Hei-kwun and the escaped pupils.
Hei-kwun and Man-ting, along with Red Bean and her mother (who plays dead in order to swindle people out of their money) arrive at Ma Kai-sin's mansion. Red Bean is to be married to Kai-sin, who is completely oblivious to Red Bean and her mother's plans to steal his wealth. While Hei-kwun and Man-ting begin to settle in, Red Bean sees Hei-kwun as a threat to her plans. She attempts to kill him, but she fails and Hei-kwun warns her that as long as he is around, she will not be causing any trouble. Man-ting sees all of this, and accuses his father of having feelings for Red Bean, since through their travels, Hei-kwun taught his son many teachings to stay alive, such as "to kill without mercy", or "hold your temper, but only until you cannot hold it anymore".
Meanwhile, Kai-sin's son, Ling-yee, begins to bully Man-ting, due to Man-ting's low social status and Ling-yee's jealousy of Man-ting's superiority in Kung Fu. Ling-yee, a former pupil of Shaolin (who has a part of the map tattooed on his back), calls upon his former Shaolin friends (who also have the other parts of the map) to help him beat up Man-ting. Man-ting, although trying to be passive at first, loses his temper, beating all the boys up, as well as spraining Ling-yee's arm. However, Man-ting commands Ling-yee to hold still as he quickly fixes Ling-yee's arm, to prevent permanent damage. This earns him the respect of all the other boys, and they all call him "oldest brother" out of respect, although he is the youngest of them all.
On the Lunar New Year, several guests dine and celebrate at Kai-yin's mansion. However, government soldiers have tracked the location of the pupils to Kai-Sin's home …
David Rooney of Variety called it "a high-kicking historical revenge spectacular" that is "a nonstop crowd-pleaser". Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that film will appeal to hardcore fans, but the well-executed actions scenes eventually become monotonous.
- Rooney, David (19 February 1995). "Review: 'The New Legend of Shaolin'". Variety. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
- LaSalle, Mick (13 July 1995). "Creative Carnage to Go / The bodies pile up in kung fu import". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 5 July 2014.