Donnie Yen is back and he’s bigger than ever!!
Fatter… I should say.
Yeah, Donnie Yen plays an overweight hero in this film in a reimagining of the 1978 Sammo Hung Film called ‘Enter the Fat Dragon’! But don’t worry, it’s all in the name of art as Yen proves he can move as good ever when while wearing a fat suit!
But let’s get into it a bit…
What’s this film about?
Well, as mentioned this film is essentially a re-imagined version Sammo’s original film from the late 70’s.
In the original version, Sammo was the lead and played a Bruce Lee fanatic who was not only obsessed with Bruce Lee, but imitated him at every turn. After upsetting some triads he ends up in a twist of fighting these guys off and doing the whole hero thing (read my short review of the original here).
But this film is quite different, as the Bruce Lee theme isn’t really in your face as much, although it is touched on early in the film to create that connection with Donnie’s character. But I’ll get into that soon.
Comparatively, this film is more conceptual in it’s similarity, as Donnie Yen’s character Fallon is a bit of cliche action movie cop (Sammo wasn’t in the original). He stops at nothing to take down a crim early in the film, destroying lots of property in the process. This get’s him into some deep trouble.
Fallon’s Fiance was supposed to meet him when he was off saving the world so she’s had enough of his crazy action and leaves him. The police department is sick of the destructive heroism and demotes him so he’s stuck sitting in a chair in the evidence room. To top it all off he injuries his ankle severely and ends up curled up at home watching movies, eating junk food and gaining a tonne of weight over 6 months.
But Fallon gets his chance to shine and get back into his old role as a badass when he is to transfer a prisoner to Japan. But the mission goes wrong and he gets mixed up trying to fix the case and fights off some criminals involved in the situation.
That’s the guts of the premise. But let’s talk about a few things…
The film kind of references Bruce Lee.
Since the original is essentially a parody of Bruce Lee and Bruceploitation films, I expected the character to be a Bruce Lee fanatic again. But it’s a little thin.
A small touch is the music that introduces the film (and can be heard throughout) is very similar to the music in the Bruce Lee film ‘Way of the Dragon‘. When I heard this I got excited as I expected to see Donnie pay some homage to Bruce much like he did in ‘Legend of the Fist: the Return of Chen Zhen‘.
But he’s basically another stock standard Donnie Yen style character with a bit off added silliness.
We do get a glimpse into the Bruce Lee themes a little more though, as we notice Fallon watching a string of Bruce Lee films when he is out of action and even occasionally performing Bruce’s battle cry when fighting. One more subtle storytelling hat tip was the thugs bullying a restaurant which belonged to a friend of Fallon’s in the film, much like Way of the Dragon yet again.
It seems Way of the Dragon was big source of reference in this film as it’s music is heard in the film, it parallels the gangsters in the restaurant and it also happens to be Way of the Dragon playing on Fallon’s TV earlier in the film.
Other than that, we don’t get a tonne of fun or obvious references to Bruce Lee or even the original film.
References aside, how is the film?
I enjoyed it, it’s a fun film and definitely worth a watch, but there are a few things about it I noticed.
First of all, Donnie Yen seems very standard in this film and even though it’s a bit silly from time and time, it doesn’t offer a barrell of laughs like you’d expect from an action-comedy. It has some moments, but it plays out like a light-hearted action film.
One thing to note is that if you removed the fat suit from Donnie altogether, the movie would be more or less the same as it doesn’t affect his ability in anyway nor do they ever really address his character’s weight as a problem with obstacles to overcome or an advantage to be used. He’s just kind of there and he’s fat.
However, I personally didn’t find the extra weight on Donnie distracting either, if anything I was amazed at how well Donnie could move in the suit and it seemed natural to me throughout his performance. So I wouldn’t call it a negative but it’s definitely overlooked considering the theme of the film.
I did enjoy the personal struggles between character in this film. Fallon rekindling his relationship was by no means a masterpiece of cinema, but a nice added touch to the film that kept it interesting. Overall it was a story well told, but it seems like it’s just there just to support the action.
Speaking of that…
How good is the action?
I expected to see some of the movement slow down, but it didn’t!
Each fight scene in this film has a nice flow to each movements and Donnie pulls off his signatures moves as usual – almost as if he was actually lighter than before! The use of sound and camera angles really sells each strike in this film and makes it a fun watch.
What action you get in this film is pretty fast paced and well done, but there’s not a tonne of it. There are a handful of good fights in this film and a decent finale but it could have been better and more action packed for a Donnie Yen film.
Whilst the movement and pace is good, the intensity and emotion behind the action was missing. Something that took films like Ip Man, Flash Point and SPL to the next level was the motivation behind each fight but in this film the fights are just happening.
So the action is good, but not as exhilarating as it could be.
Not a bad film, not a great film and definitely not topping the Donnie Yen’s greatest hits chart but it’s still a decent and fun film to sit and watch.
If you don’t have crazy expectation but expect to just see some fun and energetic fights then check this film out. Let me know your review in the comments below 🙂
Thanks for reading and have an awesome day!