While The Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen boasts an incredibly addictive opening action game that uses World War I as the backdrop for some funny kung fu and parkour jokes, it unfortunately fails as soon as history is moving. To get a proper film experience, it’s important to have an understanding of the complex lore of Chen Zhen, the protagonist played by Donnie Yen. As the title “Returns” suggests, this is not Chen Zhen’s first film, but keeping track of the character’s complex history can be tricky for Western audiences.
First appearance of Chen Zhen can be found in the 1972 film Fist of Fury, in which he is portrayed by the legendary Bruce Lee. The character has been included in several other properties over the decades and has been played by many actors, including Jet Li in the 1994 action classic Fist of Legend, which is a remake of Fist of Fury. “Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen” is not the first time Yen has played this character. In the 90s television series Fist of Fury, Ian played this role.
Understanding the legendary status of Chen Zhen’s character doesn’t help The Legend of the Fist get that much better. Film that received mediocre reviews from critics, looks sleek, but its fatal flaw is the lack of action sequences. Aside from the introduction, the film fails to deliver the quality and quantity of action fans of the genre demand, and as a result, it becomes boring and uninteresting.