Fong Sai Yuk II


The first Jet Li Fong Sai Yuk film was extremely popular (came in 5th at the box office for 1993) and so in true Hong Kong style a sequel was on the screen within a few months. If the Matrix had been made in HK, we would already be up to part 4 by now! Though the sequel also did quite well (11th for the year), it has generally not been met with anything near the rapture of the original.
Corey Yuen, Jet Li and Josephine Siao
It certainly does show some of the faults of a rushed process – a ragged narrative and some odd sub-plots that really don’t add much to the film – but it is still overall highly entertaining with some simply jaw opening wire fu scenes. One of the things that I actually enjoyed more about this film is that Fong Sai Yuk shows us his dark side. In the first film, Fong is almost too cheerful – too innocent – but here he grows up and learns to hate – and becomes extremely vengeful.
Adam Cheng and Michelle Reis
Fong Sai Yuk has been portrayed on the screen since the early days of film. He and Wong Fei Hung are likely the two most enduring characters in HK movies and each generation has come up with a new slant on the characters. Fong was apparently a true person who lived in the 18th century but very little is actually known about him and so filmmakers have a lot of room for interpretation. According to Bey Logan in his book Hong Kong Action, Fong was from Canton and learned his martial arts from his mother. In a martial arts match at the age of fourteen he killed his opponent and Logan goes on to write that Fong seems to have died in his twenties. Of course, in many of the Fong Sai Yuk films he is one of the Shaolin monks who fight against the Manchus and was present at the burning of the Shaolin monastery. Director Chang Cheh believes that Fong Sai Yuk was beheaded by the Ching rulers.
Amy Kwok and Jet
The very first kung fu movie made in Hong Kong was a "Fang Shi Yu" movie "Fang Shiyu Battle in The Boxing Ring" produced by Sammo Hung's grandparents in 1938. Afterwards there followed a series of films based on the character that continued until the late 1960s. Then in the 1970s Alexander Fu Sheng often portrayed him in some of Chang Cheh’s films. Some of these are Heroes Two, Shaolin Temple and Men from the Monastery. Jet Li and Corey Yuen take Fong Sai Yuk out of the Shaolin ranks and instead put him into the Red Flower Triad Society. Of course. in those days the triads were patriotic groups that secretly formed to re-establish the Ming dynasty. In a bit of humor – Jet Li is given the rank of 49 in the society – the lowest rung on the totem pole and in some modern day triad films this number is applied with the same meaning. A year after the Jet Li films, Fong Sai Yuk was to return to the Shaolin ranks in Ringo Lam’s Burning Paradise.
This film takes up right after the previous film ends – Jet and Ting Ting (Michelle Reis) have joined up with the Red Flower Society that is headed by Mr. Chen (Adam Cheng). Vying for power is the bald headed villainous looking Yu (Chi Cheung-hua) who is looking for any reason to overthrow the virtuous Chen and turn the group into a ring of thieves. The opportunity comes in a secret message being carried by Samurais from Japan that incriminates Chen. Chen sends Jet to get it, but after failing Jet is then ordered to seduce the Governor’s daughter (Amy Kwok) in order to steal the message. Clearly, Ting Ting is not pleased with this set-up. Throughout the film Josephine Siao is on hand to get her son out of hot water – but in the end it is her life that literally hangs in the balance as Jet must turn away from innocence and become a merciless killer.
Much of the first hour is light if not effective comedy - though there are three terrific action pieces that are very pleasing and wonderfully visual. The fight on the river rafts against the Samurais is very clever – the incredible contest for Kwok’s hand may seem similar to one that takes place in the first film – but is still an astounding choreographed and epic scene with hundreds of men being used as human ladders and bridges to enable her suitors to reach the top of the tower.
But it is really at the hour mark when this film totally kicked in for me. With his mother tenuously balanced on a teeter-totter set of jumbled benches – with a noose around her neck – Jet grimly puts on the weapons of death and goes to face men that he once considered brothers. He puts a blindfold around his eyes – so that he can kill without remorse – and walks into the waiting mass of naked swords. The killing begins.

My rating for this film: 7.5



DVD Information:

Distributed by Universe

The transfer is fine - could be better  -some of the dark scenes look quite soft and murky.

Letterboxed

Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks

There are 8 chapters

The subtitles are Chinese or English.

There are trailers for this film + Fong Sai Yuk and Tai Chi Master.

Star Files - Jet Li and Corey Yuen.