Lionsgate // 2011 // 94 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // June 6th, 2012
Survival Has A Price.
Having spent several years living in England, Ying (Sammy Hung) returns home to China in an attempt to reconnect with his roots, and work at his father's Choy Lee Fut martial arts school. Joining Ying on his journey back home is his best friend and Choy Lee Fut enthusiast, Ken (Kane Kosugi). Upon arrival at the school Ying finds his father absent, and the school in the midst of a takeover by a large Pan-American corporation. Wanting to do right by the school his father helped build, Ying objects to the takeover, and so is forced into agreeing to partake a three-fight tournament to decide the fate of the school. As Ying prepares his team for battle, he unexpectedly falls for Yu Fei (Wang Jiayan), who is leading the takeover attempt, and who is dating one of the rival fighters.
From the DVD artwork to the film's synopsis on the rear of the case, anyone approaching Fight the Fight in their local DVD store would be forgiven for expecting a seriously kickass movie. The truth, however, is very different. This is not an action movie; this is a poorly written romantic comedy with a martial arts tournament tacked on. The final insult is the way the legendary Sammo Hung gets top billing, yet gets no more than 10 minutes of screen time.
Very little about Fight the Fight makes any sense, from its threadbare plot to the decision to spend so much time on a romance that will alienate much of its target audience. There's nothing in the way of a consistent tone, and it's hard to shake the feeling that beneath the romance and action Fight the Fight is a movie struggling desperately to find meaning. Sure, Sammo Hung crops up occasionally to preach the virtue of remembering one's roots, but if that is the central message of the film it lacks clarity.
What action there is revolves around the Choy Lee Fut fighting style, but unlike Merantau or Ong Bak, which served as excellent demonstrations of Silat and Muay Thai respectively, Fight the Fight does absolutely nothing to sell Choy Lee Fut to its audience. This is particularly grating, as -- if one is to believe the Internet -- no less than Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon) himself declared Choy Lee Fut, "the most effective system that I've seen for fighting more than one person." With that in mind it seems odd that the fights that carry most weight are one-on-one encounters that fail to capitalize on the techniques supposed strengths.
Even discarding Bruce Lee's glowing endorsement of Choy Lee Fut, the film's final act is still a crushing disappointment. I'll forgive the fact that the tournament for ownership of the Choy Lee Fut school makes little sense (Why would a massive corporation risk an acquisition in such a way?), and I'll even allow for the fact that the premise doesn't lend itself to a great deal of audience investment. What I won't forgive, however, is the conservative fight choreography and totally predictable outcome. Admittedly debutant director Ming-Sing Wong delivers a handsome-looking picture. Less reliant on fast cuts than many of his Western peers, Wong allows the action scenes to flow naturally. Unfortunately it is his own fight choreography that lets him down.
Unlike the film, it's difficult to fault the DVD presentation. A sharp and colorful 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer really impresses, with even darker scenes being packed with fine detail. Despite being poorly synched with the video, the 5.1 Cantonese soundtrack scores well due to its clarity. Though the film's score is guilty of being cheesy beyond belief, it makes a good job of enveloping the viewer.
Extras are limited to a series of cast interviews, the highlight of which is a slightly crabby Sammo Hung, and a selection of trailers.
Fight the Fight is a desperately middling action movie that -- for all the obvious martial prowess of its leads -- would struggle to beat a wounded kitten that had one paw tied behind its back.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Cantonese)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13