3 StarsMovie over Jet Li, look out Steven Seagal, watch your back Van Damme there’s a new action hero in town and his name is Li Zhang. I love this guy. Zhang carries the physical build of a rollypolly bug, mixed with delicate features that give his face a constant sad frown. He slightly resembles a living Pixar creation, albeit one who is capable of double back-flips and helicopter kicks. I’ve seen the future of B grade Kung Fu films and its name is Li Zhang.
The story is a fish out of water tale mixed with a traditional martial arts film. The plot follows a Monk (Li Zhang) who leaves his temple in China to travel to New York in order to parent his nephew after the boy’s parents died in a car accident. Once in America the Monk and a former student open a karate school that soon becomes a target for the ire of a local gang. Coupled with competent cinematography and excellent fight sequences this hybrid martial arts film is one of the better straight to DVD films of the year. Outside of a strenuous subplot involving the Shaolin monk and a female caregiver this tale of redemption, vengeance and ultimately forgiveness is an unexpected surprise. The script is exactly what you’d expect from a film with this title, full of all the established beats of the genre and loads of (intentional?) humor.
Those that regularly read my reviews know of my fondness for this type of flick. Any movie that features a scene in which the bad guys wreck a karate dojo to entice the good guy into a fight is right up my alley. Yet recently I’ve been somewhat soured on the genre, particularly after the laughably bad Assassins’ Code and Fist 2 Fist. Now with The Last Kung Fu Monk my faith has been restored.
Director: Peng Zhang Li
Stars: Peng Zhang Li, Cindy Carino, Robert Christie