Here we are – finally Xing Yu gets his first lead role and the opportunity to show us his stuff!
This film takes place early in World War 2 before the Western world joined in. A Japanese cult group known as the Temple of Hades randomly kidnap kids and raise them to be unbeatable soldiers through a rather harsh upbringing and training.
We’re introduced first to our main villain, K-28, a roided out looking mean guy with some serious martial arts skill. He’s in charge of the whole operation as his master is locked away in prison. Meanwhile our hero, K-29 (Xing Yu), grew up alongside K-28 and is considered to have equal skill. After killing his brother during a fight in their childhood years, he fled the temple to become a Shaolin Monk.
But once he discovers some children nearby have been kidnapped, K-29, otherwise known as the King of Vajra, decides to walk straight through the front doors and take the kids back. Once he arrives he makes a deal to defeat the top fighters at Hades in exchange for the lives of the children.
This movie packs a punch!
The first 30 minutes of the film really build up a sense of tension and high levels of power within our main characters. K-28 himself is a sight to behold as a ‘built like a brickhouse’ (as we say in Australia) fighter with lethal level of training and skill proving tha the doesn’t rely on his powerful strength to win his fights. He is aggressive, disciplined and ruthless as he sees nothing but the goal in front of him – domination over the Chinese people.
K-29 is naturally the contrast. A much smaller and more peaceful man – whilst still built has nothing like the bodybuilder proportions of his enemy. This visual difference highlights the contrast between the two while naturally fitting in to the visual style of the film – de-saturated and gloomy until the very end when bright sunshine and rainbows present themselves.
What I like is the explanation behind the peaceful Shaolin Monk K28 when killing his cruel opponents – they are suffering and to end that suffering is noble. So K-29 is naturally out ending the suffering in badass style!
Xing Yu holds a good presence as the lead man in this film, he carries it well and gives off a certain feel about his character’s motivations – fed up and ready for action. He has what it takes to do better though so I look forward to seeing where he goes next.
The story is a bit unique and different than I expected from a Kung Fu movie but it’s nothing special – ultimately the flow and visual style of the film, boosted by some to notch action is what makes this movie good. It is filled with subtle messages and thoughts but seem to be simply mentioned and don’t resonate that well throughout the film, as you’re left waiting for the next fight scene.
The Martial Arts & Action
This movie has a solid amount of action in it with fights being shown regularly with a nice variety of fighters playing the opponent of K-29. He fights a giant, a mad energetic man with some kind of ‘monkey’ kung fu along with a handful of others and of course his rival K-28.
Some of the movements are pretty cool and we see some nice open hand strikes and even use of K-29’s head as a hard weapon, creating something a little outside of the ordinary and giving us a slightly different taste of action. The atmosphere of each fight is intense with a hard hitting sound track that feels like it reveals more rage behind K-29’s motivation. It’s pretty damn cool.
The pace and presentation of the fights is natural. It includes some wire work but is also incorporated in a more natural fashion that doesn’t make you really that aware of it (no fighting on a branch as in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon).
It was also cool to see Matt Mullins play a small role where he didn’t seem like the innocent kid next door. Unfortunately his talents aren’t showcased as well as they could have been. But overall it doesn’t affect the quality of the film and is more of a personal thought on the use of a very talented martial artist / performer.
A pretty decent action film and well worth a watch!
On Blu Ray –
Region A (US & Canada)
The Wrath of Vajra [Blu-ray]
Region B (UK, Australia, New Zealand, Europe etc)
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
The Wrath of Vajra
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)
More info on Movie Regions here.