on March 18, 2005
Having seen the first two movies on digital cable, I can say that they are great movies, but the DVD transfer quality really suffers on the 3-pack. Scenes alternate from blurry to clear with visible digital artifacts. The only scenes which are crisp and clear seem to be when there is little or no movement. If you don't like the movies, the video quality is bad enough to be distracting, and if you enjoy the movies then you deserve to buy a different version. I hope that the discs offered individually have better video quality. 5 stars for the movies, 2 stars for the video quality of the transfer.
on June 8, 2003
If you thought Jet Li products like "The One," "Black Mask" or "Cradle 2 The Grave" were great films--you don't know what you've been missing. The "Once Upon A Time In China" plays like like an underground version of mainstreamed US releases, including "Crouching, Tiger." It's hardcore kung fu, with little fantasy, a good dose of history, and grimy, all-out, no-holds barred fighting.
The 6-part series (of which Li only appears in the first three, and the sixth) follows Wong Fei Hong, a doctor long renowned in Chinese legend. The setting is in late 19th century China as issues of colonialism, and suspicion toward foreigners runs ramapant. Fei Hong is usually neutral, with stronger leanings toward anti-westernization. Villains often play the part of the complete anti-westerners, doing any and everything to kick the French or British out. In the pro-west corner is Aunt Yee (aunt via a distant relation it seems, which lessens the weirdness of the romantic tension between her and Fei Hong) who dresses "modern," takes pictures with a camera, and believes the future lies in assimilating more of the western form into the culture.
Fei Hong is caught in the middle. He is extremely proud of his country and its people, but knows there is some merit to Yee's belief. For one, as a doctor, he has seen and understands some of the more efficient medical methods of the West, and knows that they surpass some, but not all Chinese methods. He fights both overly zealous Chinese and foreigners who don't mind making murder and brutality part of the process.
The Yuen Wo Ping choreographed scenes could make up a manual for shooting the kung fu fight scene. The cuts are long, extended takes, from numerous angles, with only splashes of slow motion. Wire work takes precedence over CG EFX (there aren't really any), and the fights are fast and furious, with few dramatic pauses where the fighters glare at each other, etc. You will see some of the most clever and awe-inspiring fight scenes ever caught on film.
One fight in the first volume takes place in a multi-story barn where Fei Hong battles Iron Vest Yim atop ladders and hay bales, using the ladders as if they were his feet. In the second, more historical volume, there are amazing sequences against Donnie Yen, it top "Iron Monkey" form, and a fight against the White Lotus sect where winning the battle is only half the fight: both fighters are at the same time trying to stay atop tables, ledges or people, as long as they don't touch the ground.
It's a definite must-have for your collection, and if its the start of your collection, you'll be drawn to his other pre-mainstream films as well. Note that his assistant Fu changes from volume to volume (Yuen Biao sets and is the standard as Fu in Vol. 1) but this is a minor, although slightly irritating side issue. The fights are mind-blowing--"Crouching, Tiger" without the intimations of love, fantasy, magic or slow motion. Just drawn-out street fights in the true fight-to-survive mindset.
on April 2, 2006
So I saw on here that people are ripping the OUATIC TRILOGY, and was very dissapointed. So I carefully started looking for all of the reviews and instantly noticed that people are giving bad reviews for the COLLECTION but everybody(except for 1 stupid person)who reviews the TRILOGY has good things to say. So I am here to tell you EXACTLY which version to buy. Most of you will be able to figure out to look at my reviews and see exactly what version I clicked on to review this. The COLLECTION is obviously not the same as this and if you look for the picture for the collection you will see it is different and has chinese characters on it. So look below for my desription on the TRILOGY
OUATIC TRILOGY- this is the version I have. The film print is the only thing to complain about. It looks kinda like movies when you go to the theater, but no real white lines or huge dots so a little better than that. So the picture is not quite as good as say a miramax but the release of the movie in it's original language uncut version is at least a 100 times better. And I am like 99% sure of this but I know that jet li's voice is dubbed in these cause he speaks mandarin btu it is A HELL OF A LOT BETTER than hearing that dumbass from the jet li ollection. And sadly the guy who dub's jet's voice isn't even as bad as the others. But his voice in this one I think may be better than jet's real voice cause it is a lot stronger. But I don't know, it's just that he is the only one where his mouth doesn't always match speech. So the picture and sound in this are VERY VERY good but the main thing is the beautiful widescreen presentation. YOU WILL NOT MISS A THING. And by the way the widescreen, great picture quality, and original language, uncut version is for all 3 of these movies. I honestly could not have been happier with the release of these and actually consider them some of the best ever.
Part 1-----EASILY one of my top 30 or so movies ever. It's funny to look back on this movie now and I like it even more now than when I saw it back in like 1995. And by the time this dvd came out I had studied a lot about the real wong fei-hong, and watching it for the first time in like 8 years I noticed the superb action of course but the story is TRULY EPIC. There is like 8 events that actually happened to wong that Tsui Hark has jet portraying on screen. The real wong's life was a bit more depressing but just like american movies they saved us the trouble of crying through the end and possibly missing an action scene. And it is not like all of these events happened in the same 2 day time frame or whatever it was in the movie, but once again it's a movie and just showing parts of wong's life is easily good enough. Back in the early 40's around 10-20 years after wong's death there were stories written about him in the chinese newspaper. Now people don't buy the newspaper over there for just news but for the continuing stories of their favorite hero's. And since the stories derived from people who actually knew wong, they were a lot more accurate than say a homer piece or stories about the great Julius Caesar. They are not as fantastical but things like his shadowless kick were very popularly known stuff in Canton. And that is very interesting because the fact that he was known for kis kicks shows he is a great martial artist because his style was mainly in fist forms where he was also superior to most. But enough of the wong biography and let's get to the fights. The pre final fight between Iron Robe and wong is one of the best dramatic fight scenes ever. There is so much power being dispayed by these 2 it is truely an unstoppable force. If you can't watch these guys go at it, you need to go watch american nija or something to calm yourself down before you watch this again. Overall I would say that this movie has 4 of THE top 100 fight sces EVER. The kinetic energy of this flick sucks you up to your tv so make sure you strap yourself in and don't get too close or jet li will kick you in the head and you won't even see a shadow it will be so fast! And jet as an actor really showed that he could play this calm and under control healer/MA master to PERFECTION. And I really have to say that Yen Shi-Kwan gives the performace of a lifetime in his portrayal as a man who needs to fight wong to be the best, it's not that he hates him, just to make a living he needs to be the best. Cause even if you are second best which you would think would be good enough, it's not, cause you will still be VERY poor. So iron robe I have seen in fearless hyena and MANY other things, some great some horrible. But Tsui Hark really showcased him and Jet in this movie. Which is kind of a shame in a way which i will get to but after this movie, they have more credibility than ANY chinese star fighting on screen in that time. Now I only have 2 real problems with this film, one certainly bigger than the other.
1.---------If they could have gotten a decent american actor to lead the crappy ones or just showcase him it would have made the film a lot better.
2.---------Yuen Biou was criminally underused in this flick. He has like one flip and gets to throw about 5 punches total. So it is a shame that a guy who is easily in the class and though not as powerful as yen Shi-Kwan, he is certainly just as good of a screen fighter. His athletic skills are shown a little but overall he was not used enough. And obviously Yuen thought this too because he went on to make a Foon movie and it was pretty good. Title is kickboxer(1993). But the showcasing of Kwan and Li comes close to making up for this. So overall a great movie and you are getting the full 134 minute version. And a brief comment on the subtitling job--magnificent!!!!! Easiest I have ever read and very good translations too. Sound quality for this one is average at best, but you can crank it if you want to, it is a must for me cause this is my FAVORITE SONG EVER. And it is pretty difficlt to rival Sabbath, Jethro, Hendrix, Skynard, Zeppilin and the likes. So if these 2 things could have been improved upon, this may be my #1 favorite movie ever.
Part 2-Part 2 is one that gets a A for effort but overall the movie gets like a C. The story is pretty stupid but with a good acting performance by jet and donnie, this is almost acceptable as a movie. But the main thing to watch in this are the 2 matches of donnie and jet(one long one short, both great). The first one is good but leaves you saying NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
Which is exactly what the director was tryign to do. I'm not gonna bother with the story because it revloves around the fights and I would be much more inclined to tell you about those. The final fight in thsi is done in around 6 stages. You can count as I go along now. Someone attempts to stab jet, jet beats verybody up, he beats them all down with a pole this time after his umbrella breaks. Jet fights Kung and his entourage(very long fight). Donnie and jet pole fight, both with 2 STICKS AT A TIME. That part is EASILY my favorite scene in the movie, but still ther are 3 others that rival it. Then the cloth fight was pretty good, but would have gone down as one of the greatest if the build up was not so outrageuosly good.
So once again in this you are gettin gthe uncut version and this one has BOOMING sound, far above average. The subs like the other 2 are perfect, but sadly they still don't translate ANY song's and no fraking signs. Though this is a minor glitch, it does affect the movie.
Also, I do have one big problem with this entry into the series. The guy who plays the immortal kung is only able to show off hsi athletic skills and not his hand to hand. But thankfully in part 3 he was not only able to show his fighting skills but also his good acting skills. I just think that fight could have been better if they would have had some real fighting and not just flying. But nobody could have done it any better than woo-ping.
Part 3-this is a really laughable entry into the series, the the bad guy is so stupid that he is actually kind of funny sometimes. That is in a cheesy american dubbed way, but funny none the less. The first fight scene is pretty good and it involves Wong Kei-Ying, but sadly none of the other scenes were better. There is just too many wires and Tsui obviously had a dream to make clubfoot become this weird footmaster who can like fly whenever he is kicking. But he does do a MUCH better job shwcasing him than he did in #2. So if you just have nothing to do for like an hour and 40 minutes, that is the only way I can suggest it.
So make sure you get the TRILOGY. It is 3 movies on 2 discs and right now amazon has it for 18.99 which seems like a very good price. I got mine for 11.99 at the used store but saw it at best buy for 29.99 so definitely get it as cheap as you can cause you will not be dissapinted.
on April 19, 2003
My wife and I are HUGE Jet Li fans! We currently own EVERY Jet Li movie currently available on DVD. (Yes, that includes all the Hong Kong DVDs) If you're unfamiliar with the 'Once Upon a Time in China' series (henceforth referred to as OUATIC), it is fantastic! The action is astounding, and the acting is very good for Honk Kong cinema. It's the continuing story of Wong Fei Hung, the storied doctor and martial arts master of the Boxer Rebellion era, and one of the fabled 10 Tigers of Canton. If you are new to Jet Li movies, or Wu Shu/Martial Arts movies in general, then this is a fantastic series to start with. Now, with that said, the question remains....why did I only give this 4 out of 5? It's simple. This is billed as THE 'OUATIC' collection. Well, not quite. The entire series to date has 6 installments. Now granted, OUATIC 4 and 5 do NOT star Jet Li, but OUATIC 6 (Once Upon A Time in China and America) DOES mark the return of Jet Li to the series. And it's my second favorite of the Jet Li 'OUATIC' films. If this collection included it as well, then it would be 5 stars all the way!
on October 10, 2001
Jet Li is the best kung fu star ever. The OUTC series are excellent movies, with lots of action, showing Li's capabilities and the films offer excellent plots, with nice photography, impressive locations and top-of-the-line production. The DVD format offers excellent picture quality, with subtitles in spanish, english and french (it is difficult to find spanish subtitles in HK movies), and the sound quality is perfect (except for the Part 1, which is mono) with Dolby Digital.
The best movies in my HK cinema collection.
on November 16, 2004
This is almost like Indiana Jones, but the Chinese version. Lots of adventures, with funny bits thrown in as well.
The first 2 is the best (my favourite is the 2nd one with Donnie Yen) but I bought all 3 to keep, as it is hard to find them in local stores anymore. The only thing I liked about part 3 is the introduction of ClubFoot - one of the newest student of Wong Fei Hong. His style of fighting, with his 'demon feet' as his strength, is really captivating.
The triology have audio in Mandarin and Cantonese, which is hard to fine. The English subtitles are pretty good - so I can watch with all my non-Chinese buddies. Picture quality is quite good, sound quality is ok (minus 1 star) - on some parts it looks as if the words are coming out before the mouth moves, but this is not a big glitch. Overall, I am very satsified having bought this trilogy collection.
Buy this if you want a Chinese classic kung fu collection to enjoy for many many times.
First off, buy the "Once Upon a Time in China" Trilogy, not Collection. Collection has far more technical issues than the Trilogy. Unfortunately, since Amazon groups all of its reviews, there's confusion as to which version is being referred to.
Second, there are 6 movies in this series. The first 3 are the ones to focus on (and the ones sold in this package). 4 and 5 don't star Jet Li. Number 6 (Once Upon a Time in China and America) stars Jet Li, but has a different director (Sammo Hung) than 1-3 did (Tsui Hark, HK's Spielberg-some would argue) and is, at best, mediocre.
The OUATIC series is about the adventures of Wong Fei Hung, a Chinese folk hero. This character pops up a lot (as a child in Iron Monkey, Jackie Chan's character in the Drunken Master series). Each portrayal is very different and most aren't based but on the slightest detail to the actual historical character. But that aside, here's what the movies are really about:
Yes, Jet Li's character struggles with a HK overrun with British Imperialists and the woman who loves him and all the drama that follows and. . .honestly, no one really cares. The story is an odd mix. When there aren't action sequences, much of the story plays out like a routine period piece. The story is decent and worth a look, but subsequent viewings will have you simply skipping ahead to the action sequences because. . .
. . .these are simply the best collection of HK/Kung Fu/Wire Fu fight sequences you will ever find. You have an actor at the top of his kung fu game with choreographers who are given a lot of freedom and creativity to use the actors talents, all captured by a director at the peak of his powers. These fight sequences are the stuff of legend, the yardstick that all kung fu fights are measured against. Not to take anything away from other flicks of Jet's like Fist of Legend or Fong Sai Yuk, but these are the best. And to get them all in one package for such a cheap price is nothing short of criminal. I paid a small fortune to get these three films from HK before this version was released.
You'll see some of the most innovative and intense wirework, skill, and choreography you've ever witnessed, stuff that makes the Matrix look tame by comparison, despite coming out years before the Wachowski's ever put word 1 to paper. Every scenario you can imagine is captured, Jet vs. 1, Jet vs. some, Jet vs many, Jet with weapons, Jet with bare hands, Jet with props=like an ubrella, Jet vs. flaming arrows, Jet vs. boss characters in the most insane environments you can imagine. I can't stress it enough, this is as good as it gets. Even skipping over the story, the fight scenes will entertain you and your next several generations long after you're gone. Simple as that. If you're into Kung Fu flicks and somehow have slept on this one, just buy it.
on December 3, 2001
Jet Li rises to a level only rivaled by Bruce Lee in the China series. I am not usually a hard core Kung-Fu fan, yet as soon as I started watching the series I couldn't stop. We finished the movies in one sitting which unfortunatelly started at 9 pm on a week night. Sleep is important, but try and put this series down... Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon looks silly when stacked up to these classics. Great plot, captivating story(especially if you stop to think about what was really happening in turn of the century China), and fight scenes that put the Matrix to shame all add up to a classic that is a must for any one with a DVD player, much less Kung Fu fans.
on January 30, 2005
These 3 movies are indeed landmark movies in Chinese Cinema and definetly for Jet li and Movie Kung fu.
However, I watched 10 minutes of te first movie on this compilation which DOESN'T have english Subs ( I don't mind, but every other DVD I have ever seen has this )
Also, in the first ten minutes, there have been 2 incredibly bad awkward translations. For some reason, Cousin Yi is now Aunt 13 and Chu's bird is now Chu's Beard. This is Crap. Do NOT buy this, buy the movies seperately, you can probably find them each for 9 bucks, and they would be more satisfying that way.
on August 2, 2005
The Once Upon a Time in China Trilogy is a great way to get 3 great Kung Fu movies at once. I won't review them all seperately but will give a general review.
All 3 are Imaginatively choreographed with Jet li (Wong Fei Hung) flying high.
Great epic stories of currupt government officials with some great fight sequences. The picture and sound quality isn't too bad and the English subtitles are pretty well translated.
This is a highly recomended series