The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk

Reviewed by: hkopinions

March 26, 2008

Rating: five

Jet Li as Fong Sai Yuk
Josephine Siao as Fong's mother
Michele Reis as Ting Ting
Paul Chu as Fong's father
Adam Cheng as Chan Ka Lok
Sibelle Hu as Tiger Lu's wife
Chiao Wen Jor as Royal Assassin


"The Legend" tells the story of the young Fong Sai Yuk up to the point he joins the Red Flower Society (RFS). The Red Flower Society is a rebellious group that is trying to overthrow the Manchus. RFS is especially unhappy with Ch'ien-lung, the current emperor. Ch'ien-lung is supposedly a true Han but rules for the Manchus. He is considered a disgrace to his country. The story of Fong Sai Yuk begins in the city of Canton, which is Sai Yuk's hometown. Sai Yuk is a troublemaker but very quick witted. He always tries to lend a hand but always gets into trouble with his father for fighting. Sai Yuk's personality is a result of his mother's personality. They are inseparable. Sai Yuk uncovers the truth about his father and also manages to marry Tiger Lu's daughter. Tiger Lu is the richest and most powerful person in Canton. In the end, Sai Yuk finds himself entangled in his fight against the government and his carefree life.

What about the story (Spoilers!)

Emperor Ch'ien-lung is on a boat watching dancing and fireworks. The dancers suddenly try to assassinate him. The emperor has to retreat but a man on horseback comes jumping onto the boat. The man is RFS leader, Chan Ka Lok. Chan Ka Lok tells the emperor that the emperor is a disgrace and is causing treason against China. Ch'ien-lung is a Han by birth but serves the Manchu government. Before Chan Ka Lok stabs Ch'ien-lung, the emperor wakes up. It was only a dream. The emperor sends for his Royal Assassin. He orders him to eliminate the cause of his dreams and retrieve the book with the list of names of all the RFS members. The Royal Assassin kills some blacksmiths because they were rumored to have the list. He sets out to find the other members.

In Canton
Tiger Lu is sponsoring this year's sports competition. Tiger Lu is the richest man in Canton and buys officials off. He has bought half of the land in Canton and even owns rights to the river. Everyone hates Tiger Lu. Before a competition, a girl named Ting Ting, who is the daughter of Tiger Lu, is bothered by some men. Fong Sai Yuk comes riding in on his bike to save her. Sai Yuk tells the men not to bother his sister or else. They start fighting but two officials break up the fight. The men then challenged Sai Yuk in the sports competition. Sai Yuk and his two friends agree. The first competition is the long jump. Sai Yuk runs to the line and suddenly stops before the jump. Everyone laughs. Sai Yuk bends down and picks up an ant because he didn't want to step on it. Then Sai Yuk jumps and the jumps clears the pit. He wins the first competition.

The second competition is the piton pass. Four people is needed and so Ting Ting join Sai Yuk's team. Sai Yuk's two friends go first and then Ting Ting. Ting Ting falls but Sai Yuk encourages her. Right now Sai Yuk's team is far behind. Sai Yuk picks up speed and seems to fly. Of course, he wins the race. Sai Yuk receives a medal for the win. Sai Yuk gives it to Ting Ting. Ting Ting tells Sai Yuk that her name is Ling because she doesn't want him to know that Tiger Lu is her father. Sai Yuk then gets into a fight and is arrested. Back at Tiger Lu's house, there is a big fight. Tiger Lu wants people to respect him. He decides to hold a competition for the hand of his daughter to win favor with the villagers. Sai Yuk is released from jail but gave a fake name to the officials. Meanwhile, Fong's mother is working in her cloth store. She wants to look like the foreigners and so paints a pair of glasses black. She can't see out of them.

A foreigner decides to take advantage of her because he thought she was blind. He tries to steal cloth but Sai Yuk tells his mother. The two of them chases the foreigner out. When they arrive home, they get a scolding from Fong's father. Fong's father is mad at his wife for being rude to customers and mad at Sai Yuk for lying to the officials. He hits Sai Yuk but Fong's mother jumps in. She also gets hit. That night, Fong's father makes up with his mother by reciting a poem. Fong's mother is addicted to poetry and does whatever he says. The next day is the competition. Sai Yuk is punished to stay in his room and study. At the competition, men have to beat Tiger Lu's wife on a tower. Whoever falls off first and lands on the ground loses. Many people try to fight but can't beat her.

Sai Yuk's two friends decide to get Sai Yuk to join. Sai Yuk sneaks out of the house to attend the competition. Meanwhile, Ting Ting looks around for Sai Yuk but doesn't see him and she sneaks out. Tiger Lu takes a servant girl and covers her with a veil to pretend that it was his daughter. Sai Yuk shows up and fight Tiger Lu's wife. Both of them fall off but are caught by the crowd. They fight a little longer. Sai Yuk kicks Tiger Lu's wife and she is falling. The servant girl then screams and her veil falls off. Sai Yuk gets a glimpse of her and screams. She was so ugly. Sai Yuk catches Tiger Lu's wife and grabs her feet. He nudged her feet on his face and pretends to fall. Sai Yuk loses and flees.

Sai Yuk's mother finds out that Sai Yuk had lost. She decides to fight. She dresses as a man and comes to the competition. She called herself Fong Tai Yuk. Tiger Lu's wife and Fong Tai Yuk fight and Fong Tai Yuk wins. Tiger Lu's wife falls off the tower but Fong Tai Yuk catches her in midair. Tiger Lu's wife falls in love with Fong's mother. Fong Tai Yuk says he only came here to fight and runs before he has to marry Ting Ting. Tiger Lu sends men to retrieve Fong Tai Yuk but Fong Sai Yuk and his mother pretend that Fong Tai Yuk is dead. Tiger Lu recognizes Fong Sai Yuk. He captures his mother and forces Sai Yuk to get married. That night, Sai Yuk meets Ting Ting but she is in a veil.

The night goes off and Sai Yuk tells Ting Ting that he loves someone else. Ting Ting also tells Sai Yuk that she loves someone else. They agree that they don't like each other so Sai Yuk leaves. Sai Yuk tries to flee with his mother but they get chased by dogs. Sai Yuk's mother gets cornered by the dogs. Tiger Lu's wife thinks it is Fong Tai Yuk and declares her love her him. Fong Tai Yuk flees. Sai Yuk tries to hide but sees Ting Ting. Ting Ting gives Sai Yuk the medal but Sai Yuk said it was a present. Sai Yuk then leaves because people are looking for him.

Meanwhile, the Royal Assassin finds out that there is a RFS meeting being held that night. He asks the officials and Tiger Lu to help him. At home, Sai Yuk and his mother are scolded by Fong's father. He leaves but it starts to rain. Sai Yuk and his mother chase after him with umbrellas. They find him talking to a group of people and find that Fong's father is really part of the RFS. Fong's father is elected the new person to protect the list. The Royal Assassin ambushes the RFS. They start shooting. Sai Yuk and his mother help the RFS. Everyone flees except Sai Yuk and the Royal Assassin. They fight for a while but Sai Yuk distacts him and flees. The Fong family decide to seek Tiger Lu's protection by agreeing to the marriage. Ting Ting and her servant walk into the room. Sai Yuk grabs the servant and shakes her real hard. Sai Yuk says that he misses her but finds out that Ting Ting was his wife. They both laugh because now they know their identity. On the day of the wedding, no one shows up.

Suddenly, the Royal Assassin shows up. The Fong family tries to hide their faces but the Royal Assassin finds out. He shoots everyone. Tiger Lu's wife and Fong's father get shot. Fong's father is captured. The Lu family tries to find a doctor but is turned away. Sai Yuk goes to town to scout. He finds out that one of his friends, Bow, was killed because Bow said that he was proud to be Sai Yuk's friend. Sai Yuk goes to the place where the guards hung Bow and retrieved his body. He made all the guards bow down to Bow. The Lu family return to where Sai Yuk and his mother were hiding. Tiger Lu's wife is about to die. Fong's mother feels sorry for her and pretends that she is Fong Tai Yuk. Fong Tai Yuk declares that he love Tiger Lu's wife. She passes away happy.

The next day, Sai Yuk tells everyone to go ahead first. He has some business to do. He had told his mother that his father would be release today, but in actuality his father will be executed today. Sai Yuk goes to the execution and tries to save his father. The Royal Assassin burns the rope to the blade and challenges Sai Yuk. They fight for a long time. The rope was about to break so Sai Yuk throws the list over the wall. The Royal Assassin goes after the list. Sai Yuk catches the rope to the blade but it is too heavy. The villagers finally have courage to go help.

All the villagers start to fight the officials. Tiger Lu, Ting Ting, and Fong's mother also shows up to help because they knew that Sai Yuk was a lousy liar. Suddenly Chan Ka Lok, the RFS leader, shows up. He saves Fong's father. The Royal Assassin tries to blow up Chan with dynamite but is stopped. He ends up blowing himself up. Finally all this is over. Sai Yuk and Ting Ting decide to go to RFS headquarters because Sai Yuk wants to join. The RFS members, Chan, Sai Yuk, and Ting Ting ride their horses toward the sunset. The End.

Jet Li
Of course Jet Li did a great job. It is mostly due to his real kungfu skills that make this movie worth watching. Jet Li fits perfectly in the role of Fong Sai Yuk. He portrayed the funny and quick-witted Sai Yuk to perfection.

Josephine Siao
Josephine was very funny, especially as Fong Tai Yuk. One memorable scene is when she was selling cloth to the foreigner and got ripped off.

Michele Reis
Michele did an okay job in this movie. She never had many scenes that were funny because she had a more serious role.

Adam Cheng
Wow! Adam only appeared in about 5 minutes of the entire movie. Don't worry. You will see more of him in The Legend II.

Best supporting actor
Adam Cheng as Chan Ka Lok

Best supporting actress
Josephine Siao

Best villain portrayal
Chiao Wen Jor as Royal Assassin

What about the costumes, scenery, and fighting

Jet Li did a great job in fight scenes. Although they look faked at times, Jet Li did do all those moves. The costumes were okay but the scenery fitted the movie very well. The best fight scene in the entire movie is the scene where Jet Li did a bicycle kick at the Royal Assassin.

What about my comments

It surprised me that Tiger Lu's wife couldn't tell that Fong's mother was Fong Tai Yuk. Tiger Lu's wife died a happy death knowing that Tai Yuk loved her but I still felt sorry for her. One disappointing factor is Adam Cheng's short screen time. He only appeared in the very end. Too bad Adam Cheng fans.

Watch it or forget it

Definitely watch it. Also go and rent both the Legend I and the Legend II.

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