Wing Chun (1994)
Directed by: Woo-ping Yuen
Tagline: "Everybody Wing Chun tonight!"
At the 'Beach Festival', Wing Chun (Michelle Yeoh) and her Aunty, Abacus Fong, are the centre of attention until bandits turn up and start hassling everyone. Around the same time, Chammy rows up the river hoping to get some blessed water for her sick husband, but she is kidnapped by the bandits. Wing Chun goes after them and manages to rescue her, but the bandits swear revenge.
The next day, Wing Chun stops Chammy selling herself to pay for her husband's funeral. Afterwards, she goes to live with Wing Chun and her Aunty.
Seeing an opportunity to boost business in their Soy Bean Curd stand, Wing Chun's Aunty puts Chammy to work. She is a big success, and soon the stand is swamped with admiring male customers.
About the same time, Wing Chun's childhood friend, Long Tok Po, arrives back in town after 10 years. He is looking for Wing Chun, but he mistakes Chammy for her and falls in love.
Seeing an opportunity, the bandits kidnap Chammy from Wing Chun's house while she is busy fighting the Fortress Lord with his 'cotton belly' that can suck in fists and feet that hit it and repel them with great force.
They sneak into the bandit's fortress and fight the hung over guards. In the end it comes down to a contest between the Fortress Lord and Wing Chun. He throws his 'Champion Spear' at the wall and gives Wing Chun three tries to get it out. Will she succeed in the challenge? Will the bandits get over their hangovers and come back for revenge? I'll let you find out for yourself.
I really enjoyed this movie as it is one of the few traditional style martial arts movies with a woman in the lead role. The supporting characters all worked very well and even the bandits seem to come of respectively.
I have seen complaints that this movie doesn't actually have any 'proper' Win Chun moves in it, but that is to be expected as it is a film adaptation of the story. There is a big difference between cinematic martial arts and the real thing. Most movies combine several styles such as Jujitsu for throws, Taekwondo for kicking and karate for hand to hand combat. Added to the mix are special moves just for the screen such as flying moves or wirework.
It is a shame that Michelle Yeoh is no longer doing any action roles, as she proved in this and several other movies that she is a natural in such a role.
This movie comes highly recommended if you are a fan of the genre or like action movies in a period setting.