A stylish martial arts film, Rise of the Legend is the latest fictionalized account of Wong Fei Hung, a real-life populist folk hero previously played on the big screen by Jet Li and Jackie Chan. This newest film takes us back to Wong as a young man, played by Eddie Peng, circa 1868. As an enthusiastic fan of Jackie Chan (who played Wong in Drunken Master) I’m not sure anyone could match his fun and exciting performance. However, while Peng plays the role more dramatically, his martial arts skills are impressive.

The e Qing Dynasty is mired in its darkest period. Full of poverty and crime, Guangzhou is a hotbed of corruption. The Black Tiger gang, led by the merciless Master Lei (Sammo Hung) and the North Sea gang are in a war for control. Wong Fei Hung (Peng) finds his way into Black Tiger and it’s not long before his martial arts skills gain the favor of Lei. While Lei claims Wong as his fourth “son,” he has ulterior motives, forged by childhood tragedy.

Director Chow Hin Yeung Roy covers flaws in the narrative with strong action sequences and interesting camera work. We are briefly given first person perspectives that offer a videogame like effect. It feels as if you’re Eddie Peng’s eyes as he throws a punch or launches a kick. The action is fast and furious from start to finish. While the action is entertaining, the bits in between are overwrought, boarding on the ridiculous. The actors play emotional moments like you would see on an Aaron spelling soap opera.

Presented in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, Well Go USA’s 1080p’s transfer has some significant issues. Black levels appear lacking from the start, bordering on gray for blocks of time. From there, the image has an almost hazy look to it, despite the rather colorful palette. Nonetheless, the transfer itself is well detailed, emphasizing the ornate fabrics that make up the costumes.

Rise of the Legend features DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 mixes in both Mandarin and English. For a film such as this, I would recommend the Mandarin track unless you really hate reading subtitles. The 5.1 mix offers impressive surround activity. The sound effects (particularly during action sequences) are nicely placed in the side channels with sweeping pans. Dialogue is clean throughout and well prioritized.

The extras are as follows:

  • Making of: Characters (HD, 2:11), Eddie Peng (HD, 1:51), Injuries (HD, 2:11), Cinematography (HD, 2:19), Special Effects (HD, 2:10)
  • Trailer (HD, 1:44)