Directed by Ronny Yu and choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping, Jet Li's "final martial arts epic" ought to be a treat for Hong Kong fans, and it is . . . for about half an hour. But when a non-sanctioned fight goes too far and brings terrible retribution down upon Li's Huo Yuanjia, he flees the city and goes into voluntary exile. So does the movie. Rescued at sea and brought to a farm, Huo (based on a real early 20th-century martial arts pioneer) learns how to be calm and engages in some tedious crops-as-metaphor-for-life nonsense. Li has come to worry that viewers weren't getting the right message about martial arts, and now he seems determined to make the audience pay a hefty penalty in sappy drama just to enjoy a few cool fight scenes. But this is an action movie, and people don't come to be preached to; the Terminator flicks also favored world peace, but they didn't pause the action for nearly an hour to rub it in.
Ronny YuJet Li, Betty Sun, Dong Yong, Nakamura Shido, Collin Chou, Jon T. Benn, Anthony De Longis, Masato Harada, Nathan Jones, Mike LeederChris Chow, Christine ToWilliam KongRogue Pictures (Focus)