|Once Upon a Time in China V (1994)|
|Writers:||Tsui Hark, Lam Kee-to and Lau Daai-muk|
|Starring:||Victor Zhao, Xin Xin Long, Rosamun Kwan|
|The Plot: Our film begins on a port-side village, where a group of pirates have taken to terrorizing a local business. They send a bucket of fingers, which they have stolen from wandering land dwellers, to this port and demand to have rice shipped to them in return. On the same rainy night that these fingers are discovered, Leung Foon (Max Mok) walks up to the door and asks for help in repairing the wagon that holds his master Wong Fei-hung (Vincent Zhao), along with the rest of the regulars from the OUATIC series. This group attacks Leung Foon at first, but after a quick Wong Fei-hung applied beatdown – these two groups come to a understanding. After Wong Fei-hung helps catch a thief, he and the crew travel into town in order to see if the courts are as treacherous as the dock people have made it out to be. As it turns out, the thief that was caught is nothing more than a police officer, and due to the magistrate recently being run off, all finances have been cut off from the local authorities and they are stuck without any form of money. So, Wong Fei-hung takes it upon himself to discover who these reckless pirates are, and set things right within this community.|
If there are adjustments within the series, it comes in the form of its storytelling. Previous films have clung to the concept of patriotism and fighting back imperialist powers, which was all well and good for the first couple of films but had admittedly grown tiresome throughout each successive film. Still, Wong Fei-hung has always been seen as a general do-good kind of character who, through circumstance, always has ill will thrown in his direction. This time out, though, it seems as if Wong Fei-hung is the one searching for adventure. Taking a cue from Hollywood, OUATIC V is a grandiose martial arts adventure film, if ever there was one. Including the requisite supernatural elements, as well as pirates and hidden treasure, this is certainly the most entertainment focused the series has ever been. Although this leads to a much sillier film, I think that this was one of the strongest areas for the entire movie. There are very few dull moments within this movie. However, if there are any, it probably comes during the purely comedic scenes. The film, during the first hour in particular, often develops into a farce of sorts. In particular, it does so as we watch Wong Fei-hung enter into a love triangle between himself, 13th Aunt (Rosamund Kwan) and 14th Aunt (Jean Wang). Some of this becomes a bit too exaggerated, but it sometimes manages to play the “cutesy” card in just the right angle that it inevitably does everything that it sets out to do. It is as if the filmmakers got the memo about what was lacking from the previous film, and decided to show that Vincent Zhao actually was able to deliver upon the comedic requirements of the role. The plot developments within OUATIC 5 are not entirely new devices, but for what it is worth the humor works. It does become almost too adorable at times, but inevitably the movie finds the correct balance between cutesy and comedy that works.