We've missed you Donnie. 2011 seems like a long time ago now, but that's how long it's been since the dizzy heights of Wu Xia (Dragon). The last three years have seen Donnie smirk, grin and guffaw his way through misfire after misfire. Special I.D. was a little too goofy for our tastes, The Monkey King did big business back home but relied too heavily on CGI gimmickry. Then there was Iceman (and potentially its upcoming sequel), which we've yet to see and really shouldn't comment on, but online reviews suggest another disappointing entry on the Yen-meisters' kick-ass C.V.
Fortunately, Kung Fu Jungle (soon to be released as Kung Fu Killer in the UK) is directed by Teddy Chan, and we were big fans of their last collaboration together, 2009's Bodyguards & Assassins. Teddy also directed Purple Storm back in 1999, a personal favourite of ours at Twistedwing. Donnie plays a martial arts instructor from the police force who gets imprisoned after killing a man by accident. But when a vicious killer starts targeting martial arts masters, the instructor offers to help the police in return for his freedom.
It's a hokey premise for sure but that's just fine, Kung Fu Jungle takes itself a lot more seriously than recent Donnie offerings and is all the better for it. Wang Baoqiang (A Touch of Sin, Fairy Tale Killer) plays Fung Yu-Sau, Kung Fu Jungle's menacing big bad. He's over the top - all icy-cold stares and fiery emotion - but every step he takes amplifies the action ten fold. Baoqiang gets the lions share of the fight scenes too, an endless parade of kick-ass fighting styles and frenetic fisticuffs. Which make up for the token female characters and dubious plot developments.
Kung Fu Killer opens in selected U.S. theatres from today. Click on the picture below for more information.