Director: Xu Ke (Tsui Hark) 2001
If you are a big fan of Li Xiaolong or Jackie Chan and fascinated by the Hong Kong martial-arts movies they starred thus you get seated in front of screen with the restraint expectation, then, as the first scene of the animated fairyland, "Shoot! What is this?" may jump out of your mind. Computer special effects congest almost every picture, which you may find their familiar variations in Star War or Matrix or computer games. The Legend of Zu is a breathtaking visual feast, though the plot may leave you at a loss occasionally.
As the join of Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger Hidden Draggon) as a warrior princess, the movie is a chased prey of media hunters ever since the shooting just started. However, merely because of the established Hong Kong action director Tsui Hark, the initiator of Chinese modern martial-arts flicks, as well as over 1,600 shots with computer-generated special effects, the movie has been convincible enough to drive you to the theatre.
The story is adapted from a 64-volume Kung Fu novel Shushan Qixia, and early in 19 years ago, Tsui has made the story in to a movie named: Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain, which at that time is the first Hong Kong movie imbued with animated special effects. Probably because the movie hasn't satisfied Tsui's craving for hi-tech effects, therefore he gave birth to the new remake movie, yet with a new title and a whole new breed of warriors.
The story is about a band of legendary swordsmen who dwell amongst the Zu Mountains to practice and fight with the evil master. The magical Zu Mountains have been the battleground between the evil and good forces for thousands of years. Besieged by the Blood Demon (Louis Koo), Xuan (Eric Cheng) joined the forces with the other righteous Zu warriors from Ermei to rid the place of evil. At Ermei, he meets Ying (Cecilia Chueng), a reincarnation of his master who perished during the battle with the Blood Demon 200 years ago. Together with Ying and Lian Xing (Wu Jing) a Ermei disciple, Xuan has to uncover the mystical forces behind Ermei's two holy weapons: the Heaven Sword and the Thunder Sword.
It is said that two Hong Kong companies and four from American Hollywood, one of them once worked for Star War, were hired to produce the computer effects for the film. The martial arts is choreographed by Yuan Heping, who also choreographed hits such as the Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Suggestion: If you happen to watch the VCD at home over a meal, don't expect you can take the pleasure form both the movie and the delicious food at the same time. Once the movie starts, the unpredictable and fast-pace consequences would disarm you with anything except fixing your gaze on the screen. Even if you are deep intoxicated in the plot, you may easy to get lost in the vague time change and short-spoken dialogues. So better finish the meal first especially if you are very hungry at that time, otherwise you might pay double loss.
(Cityweekend January 15, 2003)