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Film / Legend of the Wolf

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Legend of the Don

Also known as The New Big Boss. Which is really confusing, because this movie had nothing to do with The Big Boss, and later on Donnie will star in an actual remake of The Big Boss, but that one is instead titled Shanghai Affairs. Which is even weirder, because that movie isn't set in Shanghai, but actually in a rural village that doesn't resemble Shanghai the least... wait a minute, sorry, where were we?

Yes, the Wolf. Donnie Yen's directorial debut. That one.

Legend of the Wolf is a 1997 Martial Arts Movie starring Donnie Yen, in his directorial debut.

In the martial arts world, exists a powerful, undefeated warrior known as the Wolf. Few people know who the Wolf is, but those who can beat him in combat will be recognized as the new champion of martial arts. When a modern-day challenger tries confronting the Wolf, the Wolf then narrates his backstory and true identity...


Taking a cue from Wong Kar-wai, much of the film's action sequences feels inspired by Ashes of Time, but blended with the excessive violence and over-the-top gore of Jidaigeki which this film pays homage to. Yes, there's blood in this movie. Gallons and gallons of it.

This film include the following tropes:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: The romantic scenes between Man-hin and Yee, which allows for at least a 15-minute break from all the blood and gore.
  • Actually, I Am Him: The Framing Device of the story is Wai narrating the exploits of the legendary warrior known as the Wolf and the story of the Wolf’s epic battle against the bandits. As the story goes on, it turns out that Wai is actually the Wolf’s protégé, and the real Wolf, Fung Man-hin, is the elderly gentleman behind Wai who spends most of the meeting having himself concealed in the shadows.
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  • Amnesiac Hero: Man-hin in the first half of the movie, having lost his memory after being shot by the gunslinger in the midst of a fierce battle. He still retains his skills in kicking ass though.
  • An Ax To Grind: If a faceless mook or redshirt isn’t using a machete as weapon, chances are they’re using an ax.
  • Blade-of-Grass Cut: Happens during a conversation between Man-hin and Yee in a paddy field. Firstly zooming in on the grass, and then on him sitting in the grass, and then her coming to him.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: At its time of release, this is probably the goriest movie Donnie Yen has ever made, with enough bloody scenes to rival the Lone Wolf and Cub movies.
  • Blood-Splattered Warrior: Man-hin and Wai, every time they emerged from battling hordes of mooks. Either covered in their enemies' or their own blood.
  • Chain Pain: The first King Mook that Man-hin fights uses a very long chain as his weapon. Firstly by wrapping it around his fist as a makeshift gauntlet, and then using it to strangle Man-hin.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Man-hin himself, Wai, and more than one Mook Lieutenant chooses using tactics instead of charging headfirst into combat.
  • Cruel Mercy: After Man-hin defeats the Big Bad, by crushing every single bone in his body, gouging his eyes out, castrating him alive and leaving him entirely crippled, Man-hin opts to instead leave his opponent alive. In a gorge slowly filling with water.
  • Eye Scream: Part of the Bandit Leader's final fate, by having his eyes gouged out by Man-hin. We get a nice, lovely close-up on Man-hin's fingers dripping with blood too, for good measure.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: In the present-day, Man-hin the Wolf. Until he turns around halfway through the movie.
  • Flat Character: ALL the bad guys, basically. Even the Big Bad can be summed up as "bandit leader who holds a grudge against The Hero", but that's it.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Yee starts falling for Man-hin after caring for him while he is wounded, and the feelings are quite mutual.
  • Foregone Conclusion: As its revealed halfway through the movie that the events up to that point was a flashback story narrated by an elderly Wai, with an equally old Man-hin present, its quite obvious these two characters will survive the story.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Right near the end of the movie, most of the bandits have been defeated, but Man-hin had to face one more Mook Lieutenant, a very muscular bandit who uses his fists primarily.
  • Groin Attack: Man-hin, on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle from the Big Bad, finally turns the tide of battle around when the Bandit Leader missed a kick, allowing Man-hin to shove a fist into the bandit leader’s nards. Complete with VERY audible Sickening "Crunch!".
  • The Gunslinger: One of the Mook Lieutenant is a one-eyed gunman, who uses a revolver with near Bottomless Magazines (subverted, he fired around 20 shots from a six-shooter, before needing to reload) besides throwing knives in battle.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Constantly, there are over a hundred deaths in this movie, and most of them comes with a generous dose of red syrup squirting all over the place. The fact that most characters are killed by machetes does help.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • The first bandit lieutenant, who uses chains to fight Man-hin, ends up getting ensnared by his own chain, where an ill-timed snag causes a pointed piece of wood caught in the chain to end up piercing his gut.
    • The gunslinger bandit who uses throwing knives as an additional attack have his flung knife deflected by Man-hin, back into his stomach.
  • I Have Your Wife: Well, I Have Your Girlfriend. The Bandit Leader have his minions capture Yee, and holds her at machete-point to draw Man-hin out. Unlike most examples, she didn’t survive the hostage exchange.
  • Kill the Cutie: Yee is the nicest, most innocent and completely harmless character, yet she gets one of the most gruesome deaths in the entire movie. In contrast, several Mook Lieutenant bandits whom are responsible for the deaths of innocent villagers and redshirts didn't die as violently as she did.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: It the final battle, Wai picks up a rattan basket as a makeshift shield, and effectively deflects attacks from mooks all around him.
  • Machete Mayhem: Nine out of ten of the various characters, may they be bandits, redshirts, villagers, Man-hin and Wai, uses machetes as their Weapon of Choice.
  • Mook Lieutenant: There are a few bandit leaders which are deadlier, puts up a much better fight, uses special or unique weapons, and are as good at killing redshirts as Man-hin is at killing regular bandit mooks. They usually last longer when facing Man-hin or Wai in direct combat.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Final round of battle between Man-hin and the Bandit Leader, culminating with Man-hin pressing his opponent against a cliff face and delivering roughly a hundred punches across his face, chest, torso, stomach, and evety inch of his body.
  • No Name Given: The Big Bad is never named onscreen, just referred to as the Bandit Leader. Likewise, none of the various bandit Mook Lieutenant have names either, but since they die as quickly as they’re introduced it doesn’t really matter.
  • Off with His Head!: Right in the opening scene, Man-hin slays a mob boss by hacking the head off using his machete.
    • In the ending, the Bandit leader kills Yee by removing her head, intimidating Man-hin to come at him on a Self-Destructive Charge.
  • Older Is Better: In the present-day, Wai states his dislike of using hand-phones and his preference for old-fashioned pagers.
  • Open the Door and See All the People: A rather extreme example, but the climax is kicked off with the villagers opening their doors... only to see the Bandit Leader, with ALL the Mook Lieutenant, and roughly two hundred bandits in tow, coming towards the village with the intention of slaughtering everyone.
  • Piggyback Cute: Part of Man-hin bonding with Yee have him carrying her on his back while running across the village and paddy fields.
  • Punch Parry: Between Man-hin and the first Mook Lieutenant (the one who uses a chain wrapped around his fist).
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Right in the opening scene, there is a mob boss threatening a woman by having his mooks hold her down, and him using his machete to slice up her clothing (but without leaving a single scratch on her skin). But before he could perform this trope, Man-hin arrives and hacks off his head.
  • Red Baron: Man-hin is known by most people as The Wolf, a legendary, undefeatable warrior.
  • Redshirt Army: The villagers and peasants, who tries their best in the battle against the bandits. They manage to hold their own well enough, but suffers heavy casualties especially against the Bandit Leader.
  • Retired Monster: Man-hin used to be a vicious killer and murderer, before swearing off vengeance and escaping to Yee’s quaint little village to hide from his past. Too bad the bandits he used to serve isn’t too keen on letting him go.
  • Rising Water, Rising Tension: Part of the backdrop of the final battle involves Man-hin and the Bandit Leader fighting each other in a narrow valley slowly filling with sea water.
  • Romantic Rain: The romance between Man-hin and Yee kicks off while both are running in the rain, and peaks off with them having their Big Damn Kiss while drenched in the downpour.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": Used constantly in the movie. Whether its necks being broken, skulls being stomped on, innards being squashed, heads being whacked through the brain, and the above Groin Attack.
  • Slashed Throat: Plenty, most of which are rather graphic with a generous dose of red syrup.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Well, Throwing Your Machete Always Works. Man-hin defeats more than one enemy by hurling his machete with deadly accuracy.
  • Wake Up Fighting: Wai made a mistake of waking up Man-hin while he’s taking a nap, recuperating from his injuries in the forest battle. Man-hin, in a moment of reflex, throws his machete and missed Wai by a millimetre. Man-hin brought this up later:
    Man-hin: "Do you know how lucky you are to be alive? I could’ve killed you!"
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Man-hin, recuperating from his injuries, with loads of close-up on his abs.


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