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Film / True Legend (2010)

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True Legend is a 2010 Martial Arts Movie directed by Yuen Woo-Ping, starring Vincent Zhao Wen Zhuo, Zhou Xun, Michelle Yeoh and Jay Chou. It was widely promoted as the first modern 3-D Movie made in China.

Su Can (Vincent Chiu) was once a proud warrior and general, but Su Can's half-brother, Yuan-lie - the child of a villainous martial arts master killed by Su Can's father and subsequently adopted into the Su family - harbors an old grudge towards the Su family, and specifically despises Su Can due to his achievements as a warrior. Seeking revenge against the entire Su bloodline, Yuen initiates a massacre where Su Can, his wife Ying (Zhou Xun) and his son Su Feng, are among the only survivors. Barely surviving the bloodshed, Su Can and Ying are rescued by a herbalist named Sister Yu (Michelle Yeoh), while Su Feng is taken away by Yuan as a foster son. Now desperately seeking vengeance,Su Can seeks guidance from the fabled God of Wushu to learn the true powers of martial arts and rescue his son Su Feng from his demented half-brother.

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David Carradine shows up near the ending as a pit fighting-ring host, in his final film role.


This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Advertised Extra: Michelle Yeoh's and Jay Chou's characters have their own character posters. They have a combined screentime of around 15 minutes in a 2 hour movie.
  • Bad Boss: Yuan, who nonchalantly kills off one of his soldiers who brought back bad news to him (Its hardly the soldier's fault!) and later on, after ordering his mooks to bury Ying somewhere in the woods, kills off all his mooks to Leave No Witnesses.
  • Bald of Evil: Yuan doesn't have a single hair on his head or body, which may be a result of him infusing himself with the Venom Fist to make himself utterly invincible.
  • Barbarian Longhair: Su Can, seen on the above poster. He only becomes like this after his training with Sister Yu halfway through the film.
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  • Bio-Armor: Yuan, after achieving the highest possible level of his venomous powers, had a set of scorpion-like organic armour growing on his chest, torso and back. In the penultimate battle between Yuan and Su Can, Su, in an extreme fit of rage, rips off chunk after chunk of Yuan's natural armour exposing much of his inner flesh...
  • Blade on a Stick: Many characters uses this, including some bandits in the opening battle and Yuan's mooks. Su Can himself notably uses a halberd when confronting Yuan in the climax of the second act.
  • Brother–Sister Team: The Iron Twins, a pair of deadly siblings who serves Yuan directly. They serve as a Dual Boss before Su Can's penultimate confrontation against Yuan.
  • Buried Alive: Ying ends up being shoved into a box and buried in the woods outside Yuan's mansion. Su Can manage to locate where she is buried and dig her out, but by the time he digs her out Ying have already died of suffocation.
  • Cain and Abel: Yuen is the Cain to Su-Can’s Abel, who is also his Arch-Enemy after all the pain and suffering he caused for his brother in the name of revenge.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: During the arena battle, Su Can have finally taken down all the pit fighters except Malatoff. Anton, in a last-ditch attempt to make sure Malatoff wins, decides to inject Malatoff with a syringe of steroids and send him back to battle. Su Can beats Malatoff to death all the same.
  • Cycle of Revenge: The entire conflict is kicked off by Yuan's desire to avenge his father's death in the hands of Su Can's father, and then arranged to have the Su family killed off, only for Su Can to escape and come back for more revenge...
  • Combat Medic: Sister Yu, the herbalist, who knows plenty of martial arts herself. Being played by Michelle Yeoh that's a given.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Su Can in the third and final act of the film, having lost his wife, family, killed his own foster brother, only for Western colonialists to topple the dynasty where he's unable to serve the Imperial court or re-live his glory days. The fact that his son is still with him is the only reason why he didn't become a Death Seeker outright.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Yuan dies in the second act, and the movie keeps going on for another 40 minutes with Su Can fighting off Western pit fighters and boxers who have established dominance in China.
  • End of an Age: After the second act, the movie gets to a Time Skip where the Su family no longer prospers, the Imperial government have fallen to western colonialists, and the power of kung fu is no longer valid with westerners dominating the Orient with their advanced weaponry and drugs.
  • Evil Uncle: Yuen, to Su Feng. Downplayed example though, he didn't really try to hurt the child, since the Su family raised him from birth, he's determined to raise Su Feng as his own.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Yuen is adopted by the Su family so that he doesn't end up a villainous martial artist like his own father, and Su Can, feeling that Yuan deserves better as a brother, decide to relinquish his position as a governer to Yuan. So... Yuan repays the Su family by removing his adoptive father's head, ordering his proteges to massacre the Su family, tried to have his half-brother killed, kidnaps his nephew, and orders for his sister-in-law to be buried alive.
  • Genre Mashup: The entire movie feels like a rather uneven mishmash of different martial arts movies made in the decades preceding this movie. Put it simply, the first act feels like Dragon Gate Inn, the second act feels like The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, and the final act feels like Fearless (2006).
  • Giant Mook: The pit fighters Su Can had to fight in the ring at the end of the film.
  • I Have Your Wife: Su Can's wife, Ying gets captured by Yuen in the second act, when she seeks Yuen directly in exchange for her son.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Su Can went from a proud warrior and general, to a homeless martial artist seeking refuge in the mountains, to a drunk vagabond and homeless drifter who have completely lost his will to live after the death of his wife and entire bloodline.
  • Imaginary Friend: The God of Wushu and the Old Sage doesn't exist. Su Can only imagined them to be his mentors while he's fighting with himself. It's something like a kung-fu version of Tyler Durden.
  • Infant Immortality: Su Can's son, Su Feng, despite several close shave with danger, survives the entire movie.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Su Can, after killing Yuen with a Megaton Punch despite his son trying to hold him back. But that's only because Yuen is the only person who knew where Su Can's wife, Ying, was buried, and through killing Yuen, Su Can may no longer be able to save his wife before its too late.
  • Noble Demon: Yuan may be evil to the core, but he still follows his own morals and genuinely cares for his nephew, which he abducted.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Part of the Extreme Mêlée Revenge Su Can delivers to Yuan during his Roaring Rampage of Rescue for his wife and Su Feng’s mother.
  • Nothing Up My Sleeve: While battling the pit fighters, one of them stealthily whips out a hidden blade beneath his sleeve and tries to attack Su Can. Su quickly dodges his attack causing said fighter to stab one of his own partners instead.
  • Off with His Head!: Yuan executes Su Can's father with this manner, and later presents the decapitated head in a bundle to his own father's grave.
  • One-Hit Polykill: The Iron Twins gets Impaled with Extreme Prejudice by Su Can's giant halberd, first the sister, then the brother.
  • Papa Wolf: Do NOT threaten Su Can's son and only child, Su Feng, in his presence, if you want to live.
  • Poisonous Person: Yuan, whose training in the forbidden Five Venom Fist made his punches literally venomous, and can corrode a person's flesh just by grabbing with his palm.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: Su Can, after training by the God of Wushu, have become invincible and all-powerful, enough to eventually defeat and kill Yuan. But after the Time Skip, he's now struggling to defeat a handful of Badass Normal wrestlers.
  • Raised by Rival: Yuan is adopted into the Su family after Su Can's father killed Yuan's biological father, a corrupt martial artist.
  • Retraux: The film's American poster is designed to deliberately invoke the style of 70s vintage kung fu movie posters.
  • Sanity Slippage: Su Can in the last half hour of the film, ultimately losing grasp of his mind when realizing that Vengeance Feels Empty.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: The conflict is kicked off by Su Can's half brother, Yuan trying to avenge his biological father, killed decades ago by Su Can's father, by waging war on the entire Su household.
  • Take It to the Bridge: In the opening fight, Su Can had to battle a few bandits while crossing a bridge over a bottomless chasm. And while confronting Yuan, he had to cross another bridge over a pier.
  • Tomato Surprise: There is no God of Wushu, or Drunken Sage. The True Master that trained Su Can to be better, stronger, and invincible in the second act, is all Su Can himself.
  • Tragic Hero: Su Can, as exemplified by various entries on this page.
  • Training Montage: Su Can, after recovering from his injuries, goes through one of this to make himself stronger for his eventual revenge.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Yuen, who repays his adoptive family by initiating the massacre and downfall of the entire Su bloodline.

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