If you enjoyed the TV series don't watch this movie!
, 04 Sep 2011
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
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I watched this because I'm a fan of the Water Margin TV series, which is based on a classic Chinese story, and couldn't have been more disappointed. All I can say to any other fans out there is avoid this story.
For anyone not familiar with the TV series or legend this is the tale of Song Jiang (Lin Chong in the TV series) and the 108 heroes who come together in the Liangshan marshes to combat injustice, the series is often compared to Robin Hood although the structure is closer to the early Arthurian legends in that the central character (Song Jiang/Lin Chong) might appear at the beginning or end of the story and have nothing to do with the adventure itself. If you have the time I would strongly recommend the two season TV series or the
novel, Outlaws of the Marsh.
The plot of this film, what there is of it, is based loosely around the tale of Yang Quin who leaves Liangshan marsh to challenge a champion wrestler. Liangshan are invited by corrupt officials to take part in a tournament and Song Jiang decides to accompany one of the competitors. After he is kidnapped the bandits must ward off an attack on Liangshan marsh and enter the tournament without their inspirational leader.
The story is reminiscent of a school yard at break time, lot's of shouting, running about, everyone probably knows what they're doing but, to an outside observer, it looks like absolute chaos. As mentioned above, there are 108 famous heroes in Liangshan marsh, trying to give them all something to do leaves very little time for anything else.
The only redeeming feature I found was in the third of the tournament fights. After Song Jiang reappears, his loyal follower picks up his game and does some pretty impressive drunken style Kung Fu. This is the only point in the story that deserves the half star I have awarded and, to be honest, any fan of Kung Fu movies can probably give half a dozen better examples of this style.
I was very disappointed and feel this chaotic, ill conceived effort has done little to promote a classic and enchanting example of Chinese culture.
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