HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Bruce Lee & I
Doraemon The Movie: Nobita's Dinosaur
Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
Invasion Planet Earth
Ferdinand
Buddhist Spell, The
Steel and Lace
Reivers, The
Angel Has Fallen
I Lost My Body
At First Light
Free Ride
Crawl
Transit
Blank Check
Mad Monk, The
Wind, The
Holly and the Ivy, The
Atlantique
Now, Voyager
Wolf's Call, The
Nostalghia
Nightingale, The
Eighth Grade
Irishman, The
Betrayed
Lords of Chaos
Operation Petticoat
Dead Don't Die, The
On the Waterfront
Last Faust, The
Moonlighting
Art of Self-Defense, The
Ironweed
Booksmart
Prisoners
Beach Bum, The
Kill Ben Lyk
Into the Mirror
Support the Girls
   
 
Newest Articles
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
   
 
  Dr. Wai in 'The Scripture with No Words' Raiders of the broken marriageBuy this film here.
Year: 1996
Director: Ching Siu Tung
Stars: Jet Li, Rosamund Kwan, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Charlie Yeung, Law Kar-Ying, Ngai Sing, Billy Chow, Johnnie Kong Yeuk-Sing, Liu Tie-Lan
Genre: Comedy, Martial Arts, Romance, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: In 1930s China, ace adventurer, author, archaeologist and martial arts expert Dr. Wai (Jet Li) foils his arch-rival from stealing an ancient war machine in the form of an enormous mechanical ox. Thereafter the Chinese government commission Wai and his handsome but hapless sidekick Shing (Takeshi Kaneshiro) to prevent a legendary lost scripture with destructive magical powers from falling into the hands of the Japanese. Infiltrating the Japanese embassy, Wai finds himself unexpectedly falling in love with a sweet servant girl named Cammy (Rosamund Kwan). Or at least, that is what appears to be happening.

Re-teaming Hong Kong superstars Jet Li and Rosamund Kwan after their smash hits Once Upon a Time in China (1991) and Swordsman II: Invincible Asia (1992), Dr. Wai in ‘The Scripture with No Words’ exists in two drastically different versions. While the international cut seen by most English fans is a more or less straightforward Indiana Jones pastiche, the original Hong Kong version is a post-modern romantic comedy including a wraparound story set in the present day with Jet Li in a second role as Chow Si Kit, author of the Dr. Wai stories serialised in a daily newspaper, whose estranged wife Monica (Rosamund Kwan in a second role) wants a divorce so she can marry a film star (Billy Chow). In a conceit lifted from the fine French action-comedy Le Magnifique (1973), Kit pours his anxieties over his failing marriage and re-imagines real life encounters as characters in the adventure yarn, including romantically fraught colleagues Shing (Takeshi Kaneshiro, again) and Yvonne (Charlie Yeung). Different writers gain control of the story-within-the-story with Shing and Yvonne charmingly incorporating their own tentative romance as a sub-plot while at one point an embittered Kit transforms Cammy from sympathetic heroine into a remorseless Japanese spy conducting horrific experiments in a secret laboratory. He also makes her a slut. Ouch.

Opinions differ as to which is the superior cut. Action fans overseas were supposedly aghast over the heavily romantic slant, but despite pacing problems the original version makes for a richer viewing experience. Eventually Monica gets a hold of the Dr. Wai manuscript and draws the plot in the direction of screwball farce, concocting a far more benign and romantic outcome for the characters. The action sequences are as arresting and over the top as one would expect of Jet Li and veteran fight choreographer-director Ching Siu Tung. The fluidity of Jet’s amazing high speed kicks is amazing to behold and fans should relish scenes where he battles flying ninjas and gargantuan sumo wrestlers along with a climax that finds him wielding an actual flaming sword. No CGI in that scene folks, although the film does feature some early computer animation in the form of bullets sliced in half and a villain magically transformed into a pile of marbles. There are blatant steals from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) where those who open the magic box intended to house the scripture are either reduced to ash or turned into blind zombies, though its powers prove less than consistent. Late in the day, the principal villain (Ngai Sing) is turned into a crazy-haired, skull-faced demon with a throbbing elastic brain.

Ching Siu Tung handles the romantic banter and comedic scenes with less confidence and verve than the action sequences, reinforcing the theory that such scenes were left to Tsui Hark back during their Chinese Ghost Story and Swordsman collaborations. Nevertheless, there are a few welcome gags and a priceless scene with Jet Li and Takeshi Kaneshiro in less than convincing drag. The enthusiastic cast bring more warmth and charm to the central romance than is found in the script and the essential message, that marriage is a risky adventure through which couples must persevere, ultimately rings true.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1227 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: