If you ask fans of the genre to name the top 10 martial arts films of all time, there are a couple of titles that are pretty much givens. Enter The Dragon. Drunken Master. Police Story. And Jet Li’s Fist of Legend.
I hate to say it, but I think Fist Of Legend sort of ruined Jet Li’s movies for me. It was the very first Li film I saw (my review), and nothing the man has done, either before or since, has come close to rivalling that film. Hero, Fong Sai-Yuk, and The Tai Chi Master are great films, but they’re not in Fist Of Legend’s league. Simply put, Fist of Legend is Jet Li at the very pinnacle of his career.
Which makes it all the more frustrating that a decent version of the film is almost impossible to find. I personally own both the Taiseng VHS release and the Ritek DVD release. However, both releases are lacking. The Taiseng version isn’t uncut and the Ritek release has a substandard Mandarin dubjob and unremovable English subtitles. And of course, both releases are now out of print, as is the Dimension Home Video release (but that one, with its edited content and English-only soundtrack, doesn’t count in my book).
However, that’s all going to change this year. Dragon Dynasty, the Asian-focused branch of The Weinstein Company, will be releasing a two-disc “Ultimate Edition” of Fist of Legend in December. Which is very exciting news if you’re like me and have been waiting a long time for a definitive DVD release of the movie. If this release is truly “ultimate” — which hopefully means that it’s uncut, features both a decent subtitling job and soundtrack, and a decent set of extras — it might just redeem the Weinsteins in the eyes of Asian film fans.
The Fist of Legend release is actually just one in a series of exciting — and long-awaited — releases from Dragon Dynasty. Others include two-disc “ultimate” editions of John Woo’s classic Hard Boiled and the aforementioned The Tai Chi Master, as well as a “collector’s” edition of The 36th Chamber of Shaolin. Those lovely Twitch fellows have the full list of upcoming Dragon Dynasty releases.