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戰狼傳說 (1997)
Legend of the Wolf

Reviewed by: Beat TG
Date: 06/20/2009
Summary: The beginning of Donnie Yen's true awesomeness

Can't recall whether I ever watched the whole thing or not but nevertheless, I finally got to watch it again and... wow, what a movie it turned out to be! It reminded me alot of BALLISTIC KISS in terms of storytelling and look. The effort of putting all this together are really showing and one (with the experienced eyes) can definitely tell that Donnie's got quite a talent for filmmaking. Very impressive.

As story and characters go, there's nothing too solid, nothing too complicated, and nothing too original (amnesia being a common topic) to find here and, to most people, this may come of as dissatisfying and disjointed. Whatever, means nothing whatsoever, to each of one own. To me, LEGEND OF THE WOLF is more than an action movie. Taking overall filmmaking in consideration, I would say it's is a simple but well thought and purified piece of art; the direction, the visuals, the future and past aspects of the story, the relationships, the music, the conclusion of Donnie's character, the dialogue, (to an extent) the acting... ooph... The way the story is told (like puzzle pieces slowly building up its entirety, done smoothly and logically) and the execution of it is something cherishable to me. This is the kind of filmmaking I always have respect for because the people behind the artistry and creativity of their works are so damn good doing their thing!

The action is something everyone knows about; quick cuts, overusage of speed-up, unusual (risks alway come with doing something imaginative and creative with camerawork and I thought it was just that) camera placements, close-ups of certain techniques, faces, objects and so on. And frankly, it's nothing subjective (but rather pointless) to get into. Like I said, some may hate and others love it as it's up to the appeal of the one watching, that's all. Upon the ever first viewing of this, indeed, the action didn't do for me as much as I hoped to but I kept watching these scenes to see what the hype was at and finally understood after couple of times (depicting characteristics and stories through the choreography itself). But is the choreography perfect? Personally, I think it works but some bits are ineffective compared to others and some fight scenes aren't as polished as I want them to be but at the same I just forget the badness and still try to appreciate them as parts of the whole choreography so it's nothing of a big deal otherwise.

Overall, I think it would be very hard to recommend something like LEGEND OF THE WOLF to most people as it seems to despise than to interest in general terms, but nonetheless, I regard this as one of Donnie Yen's greatest achievements as an action performer and overall filmmaker.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Anticlimacus
Date: 06/27/2006
Summary: Warning: May Cause Epileptic Seizures

Legend of the Wolf
Chinese Action
Donnie Yen

The poor-quality of this film can be adequately summarized by the following statement made by a proponent of this movie on IMDB:

“[Donnie Yen] puts in what seems to be a new type of choreographic brilliance. This involves some quite close in shots of the two opponents arms flailing as they block and parry. So blurred are the movements that only the sound effects give us clues as to the blocking and hitting. It works very well.”

This is perhaps the most absurd movie-related comment I have ever seen, but it very succinctly explains the warped perspective of many who hold the opinion that films such as this (as well as Storm Riders, A Man Called Hero, and Ashes of Time ) offer high-quality action set pieces. The illogic goes something like this: A blurry set of camera frames that are impossible to follow qualifies as a great action scene. The problem with this perspective is that ANYONE – even the most inept moviemaker on the planet – can make such a scene fairly easily. The million dollar question now arises: How can one claim the greatness of action that requires virtually no effort whatsoever to create?

Why, then, do I give this film a 4 out of 10 instead of a 1 or 2? Simple. There are pieces of action scenes that show promise. In those rare instances when I could follow what was actually happening, the choreography was good. Unfortunately, these bits of promise were interrupted by inept camerawork that is usually invoked when the movie-maker is too lazy to painstakingly map out fight scenes or brainstorm over fresh combinations of moves and maneuvers. In other words, it’s a cheap, pathetic method of filmmaking that covers up the low quality nature of the action at hand. Therefore, Donnie Yen made it easy on himself by lowering the bar to such an extent that fighting sequences will only require a marginal amount of choreography.

The camerawork in this film is simply one of the worst I have ever seen. While watching the opening action sequence, for instance, I literally felt like vomiting when exposed to back-and-forth rapid-fire framing that necessitates a warning on the front of the DVD that this film may induce epileptic seizures.

Finally, the plotline was horrible and the cinematography sub par for a movie made in the late 90s.

Not recommended.

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: sharkeysbar
Date: 11/28/2005
Summary: words fail me

This is one really, really disappointing film in my opinion. The fights are well done but in every other aspect this is so so bad. I don't know where to begin to describe how disappointed I was with this movie. I was told not to bother watching it, and how I wish I had taken that advice. If you like Donnie Yen, then you might just enjoy (not guaranteed) this movie. I like his work, but this failed in my opinion.

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: movie_crazy
Date: 02/11/2003
Summary: One of Donnie Yen's best!

First of all, the story is fairly dull and is not worth knowing. And the acting is unequal. These faults besides, this is one hell of a Kung-fu movie. It features some of the best fights ever seen on screen. The scene scene in which Donnie Yen fights the bad guy who uses Monkey style is completely out of this world, you must see it to believe. Most of the big fights in this film alone are worth the money. If only the acting was better directed and the story better written, it would have been an instant classic.

Thumbs up for Donnie Yen!!!

Acting: 5
Story: 5
Photography: 8
Sound: 8
Fights: 9.5
Overall rating: 8

Reviewed by: bloody_romeo
Date: 06/05/2002
Summary: its not boring

Well,....the story of the movie in short: An assassin tells his story of how he lost his memory,..how people try to manipualte him in order to make him a better person and others to tell him who he really is,.......his story is told by
the old protagonist to the new "wanna-become-better-assassin-than u"
........The Action is great,..sometimes to quick,....but in general very good
especially the last fighting-scene.....
If i had to rate the movie then 8/1o.....
Okay,.....hope that´ll help u,...cya

Reviewed by: BeggarSo
Date: 05/15/2002
Summary: One of the best DY movies!!!

This is one of the greatest movies that Donnie Yen has made. His directing and acting abilities are superb. He didn't just tell the story through camera work, he told it through dialogue as well, a rare quality that martial art movies possess. You feel for the characters throughout the movie. The choreography is top notch, another ability that Donnie Yen has displayed. For everyone who has dissed this movie, they are wrong. I have shown many of my friends, who by the way despise kung fu movies, and have said that they loved it. My parents even love it. This is definately worth purchasing and watching for years to come. It is also a great movie to introduce you martial art films.


Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 02/21/2002
Summary: messy film-making

The Legend of the Wolf has so many problems with it, I don’t know where to start. Probably the fact that Donnie Yen apparently did everything himself (directing, fight directing and although I don’t believe, produced it). Therefore making the same mistakes Jackie Chan has done over the years, trying to do everything himself, leaving it all looking messy and rushed.

I won’t go into what little story there is, as the other reviews sum it all up. But in my opinion, unless you’re a hardcore Donnie Yen fan, then it’s really not worth seeing. On the upside though, the action is pretty good, Donnie Yen has always looked good when fighting. But unfortunately, there is little more than that I can say anything positive about.

Rating [2/5]

Reviewed by: Ryoga
Date: 11/12/2001

A very chaotic and intense movie from Donnie Yen. This movie has very fast editing and sped up but it is still enjoyable. The first fight begins right away with Donnie's character popping in and battling with a group of people in the dark. You can't really see much of the fight but it gets better throughout the movie. The bandits attacking the village near the end reminds me of the battle with the village in Shanghai Affairs. I recommand this film to anyone that likes out of your seat action.

Reviewed by: maledictus
Date: 05/27/2001
Summary: THE BLADE without talent involved...

Well, i'll have to admit i don't like Donnie Yen. Yeah, he is one hell of a fighter, and yeah, he was in some good movies (even though i'd nail that to his relation to Yuen Wo-Ping), but no, he can't act a bit, and after this, no, he can't direct.

The plot is unspeakably ridiculous and has no idea itslef what it wants to say. A young man is looking for Wolf (Donnie), finds him and because he's asleep, a friend of Wolf starts to tell him about Wolf's life. The problem here alone is, this Wolf may have been a great fighter and killed about 300 people, but where does that "Legend"-part come from? He never even really helped anybody, he just ran around and bashed up whoever looked odd. But okay, Donnie directs, Donnie gives absolutely everybody at least one line about how great Donnie is, so why not also a legend?

The flashbacks take the bigger part of the movie's time, and all the action takes place there...as the plot's already been summed up and isn't worth much talk anyways, i'll stick to the other things.

The cinematography is Wong Ka-Wai on acid, which at times results in nice effects and at other times in total desaster.

The acting is Donnie doing his thing, meaning having about three difeerent looks and running around a lot without shirt to show off his muscles. He can't really carry a movie alone, but he doesn't seem to have realised it yet. Carman Lee seems out of place, only the young man shows some talent.

Charcters? Nobody's character is developed in any satisfying way, the character of Wolf is supposed to be depthful but isn't. The villains are particulary bad, they don't even have names and their motivation is absurd.

Choreography. This is probably the main point for a Yen-movie and most people keep on praising how great they're here, but i can't agree. The mass battles have Yen take out 50 guys without anybody even hitting at him, they just stand around and wait for their turn to be cut up.

The duels are well-choreographed, grounded with minimal wirework and more violent than graceful, problem is, they also get boring to look at. Yuen Wo-Ping and Yuen Kwai know how to choreograph, their fights may take hours but you don't get tired of them, simply because the combatants are in movement, involve the things around them etc...well, Donnie just stands there and bashes at the other, is hit a few times, falls down, stands up, bashes on and so on and so on until somebody drops dead. Also, the camera is sometimes too close to the fighters, so you have no idea what's going on...and Donnie's imitation of Bruce Lee's facial expression and screams has a surrealist comedy touch to it. Oh, and to those who imagine this to be old school-like fights without any tricks, don't be fooled, there are more sped-up shots of fights here than in most MTV-clips!

In the end it's not the worst movie ever done, but i sure wouldn't give it more than 5/10, simply because everything but the fights have been showed dozen times better somewhere else and even the fights are not THAT good.

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 04/08/2001
Summary: Donnie Yen really got on the wrong track here...

Poor Donnie Yen. He is really an outstanding martial artist and an actor, but this movie has him totally off the path and doing immoral things all over. I cannot even believe this is the same guy who played Wong Fei Hung's dad in Iron Monkey. Then he was heroic and humorous and manly; here he is evil and violent and retarded.

If you are looking for great action, then you are bound to love Legend of the Wolf. My friend even has it on his top 5 list of all time best kung fu movies; which mind you, he has over 2000 movies in his collection!

I personally did not find the plot confusing. Basically, a guy named Ben wants WOLF (Donnie Yen) to kill somebody (we don't know who until the very end). While WOLF is asleep when Ben arrives, WOLF's partner tells Ben the story of him and WOLF meeting for the first time. WOLF has just been in the military and lost his memory, but he remembers he has to wait for some girl in the 7th Temple. With help from partner, WOLF reunites with the girl who still loves him unconditonally.

At this tiem, WOLF wakes up and tells Ben himself about the adventure that follows. Basically, a bunch of guys claiming to be part of the gang of 7 WOLVES, which Donnie was apparently part of and who killed the 1st bro in protecting a girl, bashes through the village and murders pretty much everyone. When they capture WOLF's fiance, WOLF runs faster than wind to save her. This is the point in the movie that amazes me. As you are watching Donnie Yen racing across the forest and throwing axes at the bad guys, and later punching various villains as if tapping his fingers randomly through the keyboard, you have to feel a little respect coming for him. It takes a lot of practice and skills to put up this kind of action, and I bet you now, no one in the world could have done it better. They would have done it differently, but not better in anyway.

Finally, the big brother wolfy kills WOLF's fiance. WOLF decides to not kill this villain, but in return blinds the brother's eyes. End of WOLF's adventure. Now, back to modern HK, we find out Ben is actually out to kill WOLF! But before he pulled the trigger, WOLF's partner flashes his blade and breaks it. The valuable lesson we learn from the whole story is: being #1 isn't anything. Even #1 gets lonely sometimes. What is important is someone you love, and someone who cares for you; someone who will be with you through the times of roughness and well-being; someone who will be with you forever. That is portrayed between both WOLF & his fiance and Ben & his gf.

You might think that I absolutely loved Legend of the Wolf - NOT SO. For one thing, the violence level here is much stronger than I would allow for in a good martial arts epic. in the beginning when WOLF and partner fight the bandits, there is a river of blood resulting from WOLF's psychological memory of the past. He literally kicks/chops the bloody SHIT out of every single person. Later, as WOLF races to save his fiance, bloodshed appear once again and does not run off the screen for a long time. The most disturbing scene however, came when wolf's brother puts a sword on wolf's fiance's head, and swings it like baseball bat. Immediately we see her head flying like a baseball. Except I really didn't expect to see her head actually coming off and shown in such detail! Just too much violence, PERIOD. Another thing I didn't like about the movie is Donnie Yen having sex with his fiance. That is just sick seeing our manly hero from Iron Monkey and our innocent warrior from Butterfly Sword all of a sudden turning into a sex craver. EHHHK!!! Last thing - Donnie Yen didn't do very good acting in the movie. He really didn't look like himself in several scenes. Even when he did, he looked vicious and malicious. But I guess that portrayed the wolf pretty well. But I just did NOT like Donnie Yen's attitude in the movie. But, as far as action is concerned, man is it packed with nonstop action! Never since the Venom productions have I seen a movie with such hardcore, elaborate fight sequences. However, packed doesn't necessarily mean best. The action choreography here obviously isn't nearly as good as that of OUATIC or Drunken Master II, but it is NOT chessy either. Very entertaining action, fairly decent story. [8/10]

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 02/18/2001
Summary: Very good

Though i can't remember too much about this movie, i remember the more i watched it, the better it got!! (just ike watching STORMRIDERS for me)

I read reviews where they say they have seen it all before but who hasn't! It's real hard to be original and though the amnesia has been used 1000's of times, i found it a good concept since i haven't seen any movies lately using this idea!!

The action is good, sped up..........maybe but when i saw it i didn't really see it!! There is one GREAT scene when Donnie Yen is chasing after the 'wolf pack' and it's a scene which this movie is already worth watching for!! The energy he uses in that scene is GREAT!!

MY favourite Donnie Yen movie


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Siu Hung
Date: 08/23/2000
Summary: great movie

for once we finally get something that's artistically grandeur in style. first of all, the cinematography. donnie seems to really like using one a one-color scheme for his movies...in this one since most of the film took place in the woods, he uses a very bright yet dark shade of green to set up the premise for this brooding and tragic tale of love and revenge. next the fighting sequences...some say that this is a very different style of fighting and to a certain extent this is tru. if they were done under Yuen woo ping, there would b grace. under corey yuen there would be bad camera angles but still some grace and power, but these fights dropped the grace and just focused on speed and adreneline. they're very fast and donnie shifts between close-up camera shots and distant camera shots. this gives the audience an idea of where the gracefulness (body movement) is suppose to b and where the power is suppose to b w/the execution of the techniques. of course becuz it's so darn fast u can't really break this down unless you've watched in like 10 times plus. and i disagree w/whoever that said donnie yen is best when he leaves the choreography and directing in the hands of others...donnie yen's best work has been the ones that he directs whether as a choreographer or as a director...there is at least some form of passion in his stories which directors like Yuen woo ping and corey yuen lack...and only he knows his martial arts ability!

now the bad things...the plot and characters weren't very well developed. the movie has a fairly decent storyline to develop from but wasn't developed due to the financial problems donnie encountered while filming this movie. the characters definitely could be further developed...esp. DY's character, his assistance, ben, and the bad guy but weren't. but if they had they would take up a lot of time and money and there are no extra time and money given the low budget to shoot this film.

so a final rating: 9/10 for it's artistic background but a 3/10 for its plot and characters

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: grimes
Date: 04/09/2000

This film isn't even worth writing a review about. However, I'll do it anyway in a selfless effort to spare others pain. Mediocre story, horrible direction, horrible action scenes (all of which took place in a combination of slow-mo and undercranking. Nary a normal speed moment to be had). Horrible sound effects (think Saturday afternoon kungfu movies (at least US residents)) and unsuccesful attempts to duplicate the artistic flair of directors like Wong Kar-Wai and Tsui Hark round out this monstrosity.

It kind of reminded me of The Blade, except that the Blade was good and Legend of the Wolf sucks. I was severely dissapointed because Donnie Yen has done much better (Iron Monkey, Wing Chun, and Dragon Inn come to mind) but he is a horrible director (ok, there was actually one decent shot in the film).

Reviewed by: SUPERCOP
Date: 12/25/1999
Summary: Above average.....

Donnie Yen embarks on his directorial debut with this low-budget martial arts actioner that is low on brains and high on action.Yen stars as the legendary Wolf, a martial artist whose exploits are recounted through a series of flashbacks peppered throughout the duration of this film. The screenplay is one big cliche; the main characters are uninteresting, the villains are tedious and unmotivated, and it also uses the old amnesia subplot which has been done to death. Even the performances are below par, which is a given considering the quality of the script. Yet despite these obvious shortcomings, it's the action sequences that makes this film worthwhile. They are plentiful (there are no less than 4 big bouts), well choreographed, highly stylized (eg. Tsui Hark's The Blade), and do a good job showcasing Yen's fabulous bootwork. All in all, a flawed, but entertaining piece that is worth the rental for the martial arts alone.

Rating: 6/10

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: jfierro
Date: 12/21/1999

A young man learns through a series of flashbacks about the earlydays of the legendary Wolf, how he lost his memory and knew only to return to a small village and reunite with his long-lost love, how he met his best friend and made friends with the villagers, and how his past came back to haunt to him, the villagers, and his love. Lots of great action and fighting from Donnie Yen and --- believe it or not --- Wong Chi-Wah. Unfortunately, while it's a lot of fun to watch Donnie fight, he still can't carry a movie by himself. And Carman seems out of place in this fighting extravaganza. But while it's no classic, the fighting sequences and basic premise are entertaining enough to make it worth watching, especially for those of you who miss the nonstop fighting movies Hong Kong used to make in mass quantity.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

I have to disagree. While I think Donnie Yen is clearly one of the bright action stars of HK cinema, 'Legend Of the Wolf suffers like his last few films from bad editing, shots so tight you can't see what's going on, and too much sped up action. I believe he does his best work when someone else is handling the directing and choreography chores, i.e. 'Once Upon A Time In China II' and 'Iron Monkey'.

[Reviewed by Anonymous]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

I really enjoyed the movie. (it was my first HK movie in a theater, it makes a big difference) I liked alot about it. The way it was shot( sweeping and intimate. slow mo and fast edits) The score suprised me. Most HK flicks have dull to bad scores but this one was on. I liked the fights. Each one was a bit different from the others. (first fight w/the blade, 2nd blade and kicks, 3rd HARD hitting battle against the guy w/the chain on his arm, 4th village fight blade and kicks, 5th eagle fight (yikes, I loved this one...he changes styles mid fight to Bruce Lee yelps and feign parries circa ITLOD 4) and the last fight was hard fought. The movie bombed in HK but I hope and pray that Yen gets another chance at directing. Straight up, he is the top fighter. Lastly, someone made comments about it not being humorous and looking a bit like the Blade. It was very funny(the sidekick) and did in some ways resemble the Blade. Reccomended.

[Reviewed by Karza]