Once Upon a Time in China (1991) - Action, Adventure, History

Hohum Score



Late 1800s Foshan, Guangdong: Wong Fei Hung/Jet Li trains men in martial arts to help defend against foreign powers already holding Hong Kong and Macau. He looks after cute 13th Aunt, who's just returned from England. Lots of fight scenes.

IMDB: 7.3
Director: Hark Tsui
Stars: Jet Li, Rosamund Kwan
Length: 134 Minutes
PG Rating: R
Reviews: 11 out of 71 found boring (15.49%)

One-line Reviews (49)

The plot is awesome, and the set pieces were absolutely stunning, plus after it was over it left me wanting even more!.

The scene with the ladders is worth sitting through this confusing silliness.

The fighting scenes in the port of the city, inside the warehouse and finally on the ship are all outstanding and have a stunning choreography.

Firstly it is quite long: there are a lot of scenes in the movie that really don't need to be there and you start to become agitated and bored waiting for the real action to heat up.

A very enjoyable martial arts film with many exciting sequences which went very well with the flow of the movie.

It was a film that made the martial arts films exciting again.

Though it is slow at the start, once the action begins this movie speeds up and drags you in.

The story was very entertaining.


In the end, I look forward to discover the follow-ups of this amusing, entertaining and fast-paced epic Chinese movie.

Thankfully, this movie is far less pretentious than that and also less serious, and as a result it's a lot more entertaining.

I had heard that it was long and boring from some people and it was the greatest martial arts film from others.

While "Once Upon a Time in China" was entertaining, it just wasn't extraordinary.

There's a lot of very entertaining fight choreography, including a terrific bit with an umbrella that would do Jackie Chan proud.

Jet Li is amazing -high flying and flexible as ever, graceful and solid and a riveting dramatic portrayal of legendary figure Wong Fei-hung.

This is a very entertaining film!

'Wong Fei Hung' has all the ingredients to make it an enjoyable epic movie.

The story is smooth and engaging.

I enjoyed it very much (and the sequels that came) and I hope my description will help you decide, if this is a movie you want to watch!

Now that's not to say that FIST OF LEGEND wasn't great - I just think this is a more rounded and developed character, in a more complex and therefore engaging story.

Steady action, entertaining story.

Saddled with a dreadfully dull story and some particularly poor comedic moments, it does not entertain as much as I had hoped.

Hilarious slapstick moments meet stunning martial arts grace .

While muddled as a whole, individual scenes are quite entertaining.

I mean that every single fight scene is half-and-half, combining instances where the camera has caught whatever it is that makes the display of martial arts breathtaking (the leaping about on the balancing ladders being especially so), with instances where it all too painfully hasn't.

Rosamund Kwan plays Siu Qun, a young woman who falls in love with Wong Fei Hung, but only creates more confusion as while not blood-related, she is technically her Aunt (he calls her Aunt 13th).

The action is intense and awesome, and with typical Tsui Hark style, there is one fantasy element, and that is Iron Robe, the martial artist whose stomach is like iron and sword blows simply bounce off of it.

You have a very courageous, strong and vise master Wong portrayed by a very good Li Lian Jie, the very amusing idiot with a heart of gold called Fu who is very well played by Yuen Biao, the stuttering and intellectual outsider So incarnated by a strong Cheung Hok Yau, the naive but very loyal and honest Lang played by a very entertaining and talented Cheng Juk Si or the charming, careless and westernized aunt Yee that is portrayed by Guan Ga Wei.

Anyway, the film does seem a bit long but it's an enjoyable movie which is worth a watch.

The idiot Fu and his addiction to aunt Yee is also very entertaining in his acts of plumb voyeurism and silly approaches to the beautiful and mature lady.

Directed by well respected Tsui Hark, its rich with visuals and storyline adding substance to an often empty if entertaining genre.

The characters who cut off their queues (their symbol of loyalty to the Qing dynasty) because of desperation or confusion or ambition.

Still, the action in the movie is stunning, and by the end of the movie you do have an idea of the plot.

The cinematography is again stunning and gorgeously beautiful.

Yuen Biao is brilliant - stunning fight sequences and of course his trademark acrobatics, and his dramatic performance is emotionally nuanced as his character takes a few turns.

The fact that this is a series of films allows the relationship to develop also sets it apart from many Hong Kong films where any romances are usually very fast-moving and unrealistic.

The fight scenes choreographed among others by Yuen Woo-ping (the director of Drunken Master, Iron Monkey plus many others) are very breath taking and unbelievable, most notably the last 40 minutes of the film, which is perhaps among the most intense action segments I've seen.

Over all, the movie's message was multi-layered and complex and can be confusing to the unschooled audience.

In fact China is sitting on the edge of revolution.

Although the fu is powerful in this Jet Li vehicle, the plotline is slow as molasses and easier to read than your average elevated-train map.

In my humble opinion, it's certainly one of the better martial arts films and has a lot more substance than pretentious films like 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon'.

Slightly "magical" kung-fu sequences may turn Chan fans off, but otherwise it is mostly engaging.

" Predictable and unimpressive.

To be honest I could not follow everything political and complicated going on, including perhaps why violence was occurring, besides a battle between governments and military going on, but young Li proves to be an upcoming star, and the fight sequences and colourful locations and costumes more than make up for the confusion I had, five sequels and short lived television series followed this original, a watchable martial arts action drama.

Alas, the story and editing are frequently confusing, the villains mostly cardboard and uninteresting, and there isn't a decent martial arts sequence in the first half.

the fight scenes are not liberally applied, but they are all perfectly choreographed, stunningly executed, and thrilling.

The final confrontation between Wong Fei Hong and Yen Zhe Don in the forrest of ladders within the American Fort is arguably most electrifying and intense action narrative in cinema history.

The music score is also well played, especially the toe tapping and theme sung by George LamA pretty fast paced plot for a pretty entertaining film.

However, it also has boring parts and is, I think, generally a bit overrated.