A new movie, called Wushu, is opening this Friday in China. It’s produced by Jackie Chan and stars Sammo Hung and three new young martial artists, those shown above and a girl, Wang Fei. Wushu is the name used to refer to Chinese martial art disciplines, practiced from Wong Feihong, to Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan. Unfortunately most of these guys are dead or getting old. Jackie knows this, and like many entertainment conscious Chinese stars, wants to prop up a new generation to fill old shoes. Jay Chou did this with Nan Quan Ma Ma, Andy Lau did this with Focus First Cut movies, and now Jackie Chan is doing this with Chinese actions stars.
You can’t just let anybody be a martial arts stars. Jet Li won 15 gold medals as a national Wushu champion in China before getting noticed, Jackie Chan trained in Peking Opera, and Wu Jing, the latest action star to come out of China, was also a member of Beijing Wushu Academy.
For this movie, Jackie Chan handpicked three (Liu Fengchao, Wang Wenjie, and Wang Fei) from mainland Wushu academy, from thousands of potentials, three people of various uncommon skills. Liu Fengchao also was once the national martial arts champion and Wang Wenjie is a nine-tails (type of weapon) expert. Jackie Chan has said that in recent years, Hong Kong movies were not booming, that young martial arts actors were very few, and therefore said, later the martial arts stars will produce by the mainland whose schools produce new talents with each generation. When he spoke about working with these younger actors, he stated that it felt like he was returning to his youth He encourages the three actors to continue their development in the movie industry and carry Chinese Wushu forward.
Shot in an actual martial arts school in mainland China using authentic fighters the film is a drama about a skilled fighter switching disciplines in hopes of catching the attention of a girl. There’s no real flash here, no over the top brutality, instead the film is designed to showcase actual training techniques and actual fighting skills.
About the Characters (provided by wu-jing.org)
Li Kui (Sammo Hung)
40, widower. Has been researching Sanda for many years, the characteristics of his martial arts are countering movement with stillness, countering power with gentleness. The father of Li Yi and Li Er. A coach at Yonghua Wushu School, the alma mater of he, his wife and his wife’s good friend Zhang Ting (He Si Rong).
Li Kui has been pining for his wife, who died following a difficult labour with their second son Li Er. While Li Yi and Li Er are training in this school, he starts developing special feelings for Zhang Ting.
Li Kui is a strict father, highly demanding of his sons’ studies. However, there is also a lighter and more adorable side to him, such as his clumsy attempt at consoling his sons when they encounter setbacks. When his kids are in trouble, he’s able to analyse the situation calmly and rescue them.
Yang Yao Wu (Liu Feng Chao)
18, an extremely talented wushu athlete, agile but not lacking in firm stance. However, he rarely shows off his skills. Has been Li Yi’s buddy since they entered the wushu school. Sets up his own clan with his friends.
Beneath his aloof facade lies the heart of an innocent kid. As to his aims in wushu training, he has his own interpretations and choice, a choice that will astound everyone.
About Liu Chao Feng
Liu was trained at the famous Yanzhao Wushu School in his hometown in Hebei when young. Owing to his oustanding performance, he was picked in 1997 to join Hebei Tigong Wushu Team, becoming a professional wushu athlete.
On the following year, he was sent to Guangdong Wushu College to further his studies. In between 1997 to 2001, he came in first in wushu and spear in Hebei wushu competitions. Competed at national level between 2003 to 2005, emerging top 6 in swordplay, spear.
An obedient kid, a caring brother and a reliable friend. However, on facing the girl he loves, he is a fool who doesn’t know how to express himself.
Perhaps having inherited the genes of his late mother, he chooses to specialise in spear. He believes that whether he’d be able to gain admission to the sports university lies in his ability to complete very difficult moves, those moves that even his parents did not manage to master.
About Wang Wen Jie
Wang Wen Jie is a professional wushu practitioner who graduated from Songjiang Wushu School, one of China’s top wushu school.
Has appeared on a few TV series like Young Water Margins since 2000 and in a few movies like Seven Swords (as a sword attendant to Prince Dokado), Night Attack since 2004.
His solid wushu skills and experience in filmmaking make him an ideal choice for Li Yi.
Trailer 1 (I think this is actually a more recent one)
Jackie introducing them at Cannes, in a perfomance demonstration:
I doubt this movie will make martial arts fans happy since it looks almost like an idol-drama with martial arts, judging from the trailer, and it looks like the direction (not even Chinese! and what the hell is Hippopotamus Films?) looks shoddy but the martial arts looks fantastic and I don’t doubt that new raw talent will come out of this. In particular, Wang Wenjie reminds me of a young Jet Li, round faced and always smiling. He even has the same ending character in his name. Wang Fei might be kinda screwed over though…she already has less promotion and her name is the exact same as Faye Wong, best diva ever. That’s bound to confuse, but hopefully she’ll make it big too. It’d be nice to have a female counterpart to these Wushu stars.