Review: Legend of the Wolf 戰狼傳說 (1997) - Hong Kong
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Donnie Yen’s directorial debut comes in the form of “Legend of the Wolf”. Billed as the “New Big Boss” in the west, this is really the Hong Kong’s reply to “Rambo”. Yen faced numerous financial difficulties after losing huge money in most of the films directed and starring by himself. Whilst ambitious and obvious strong potential as a director, 90s version of Yen failed to resonance with a crowded Hong Kong market coinciding with the pending global financial crisis. It’s a shame as it’s quite obvious that Yen was full of energy and well in his prime with something to say.
Donnie Yen headlines this martial arts thriller with plenty of firepower and trademark roundhouse kicks both in mid air and grounded. It is easy to say that Yen flairs best when the action is required, but pulls off the physical romance with co-star Carmen Lee with good effect. Lee does well on the limited role as Yen’s love interest and provides a good presence on screen. The highlight of the film goes to stand up comedian Dayo Wong in a rare highly physical bloodshed role. Wong excels surprisingly in the required fight scenes and fill up most of the film’s talkative moments. Veteran Ben Lam shows up in the final segment with some menacing martial arts moves and the ending fight with Yen remains a highlight.
All in all, “Legend of the Wolf” is an ambitious martial arts film that is clearly inspired by heavily edited 90s style martial arts scenes. It is clear that Yen tries hard to bring thru his meaningful questions about life, sacrifices and love, but fails to deliver the message due to a number of production and script matters. Currently digitally remastered on Blu Ray, this release is the best version yet and allows us to see the film’s darker moments and fight scenes in more detail. There are a lot of obvious flaws in the film, but for a 90s Donnie Yen’s film, the hallmarks of the man is all there in the making.
I rated it 7/10
The film is digitally remastered on Blu Ray and DVD and available for purchase here.