I know it’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these. I recently got back from my deployment and have just been trying to readjust, so please be patient with me. Also, finding the perfect copy of this movie (and when I say “perfect”, I mean with the correct subtitles that aren’t in broken English or just random words jumbled together) was a struggle. But I finally found the perfect copy of Kung Fu Jungle and watched it. Let me tell you…if you’d lost hope in Donnie Yen after The Monkey King and Iceman (whose respective trailers didn’t make me interested in seeing either movie at all), then this movie will remind you of his greatness. It’s a blend of amazing action and really good storytelling. Even the use of wires in each fight scene are beautifully done.
Kung Fu Jungle is about Hahou Mo (Donnie Yen), a well-respected martial artist and police self-defense instructor who is serving time in prison for accidentally killing a man in combat. Three years later, while still in prison, he sees on the news that a martial arts master he knows has been murdered. He offers to help the police catch the killer, Fung Yu-Sau (Wang Baoqiang), who is a fellow martial artist that is hellbent on being the best martial artist in all of China. With no other options left and the death toll rising, the police have no choice but to enlist the help of the former police instructor. What they don’t realize is that Hahou Mo has his own hidden agenda on finding this man.
I can’t stress how much I enjoyed this movie. I liked how they go into both characters’ backgrounds and why they walk the paths they walk. Fung Yu-Sau is a tormented soul that, through terrible loss, became obsessed with being the best because that’s all he had left. Hahou Mo is a martial artist trying to atone for his sins and is learning the importance of showing restraint. Both characters look at martial arts as a way of life. They know what it takes to be the best but they both have a different idea of what it means to be the best.
Now for the heart of the film: the fight scenes. I don’t know how much I have stressed my disdain for wire-fu but I think I’ve done so more than enough times you to remember that I hate it. However, the use of it in this particular movie enhances it rather than making every fight look ridiculous. Each fight is very well choreographed and emphasizes each master’s style of fighting. You’re constantly engaged, especially with Fung Yu-Sau’s brutality as he takes out each master on his way to the top. The final fight, which I think is one of the best fight scenes in this genre, was on repeat. Sometimes I watch that fight just because I feel like it. Second to that scene is the fight with the expert swordsman, which is totally badass.
I’m giving this movie a 5 out of 5. It’s just that good. I can’t wait for Ip Man 3 and Crouching Tiger 2. Donnie Yen is BACK!