Once Upon a Time in China II
|Once Upon a Time in China II|
Japanese film poster
|Mandarin||Huáng Fēihǒng Zhī Èr Nánér Dāng Zìqiáng|
|Cantonese||Wong4 Fei1-hung4 Zi1 Ji6 Naam4-ji4 Dong1 Zi6-koeng4|
|Directed by||Tsui Hark|
|Produced by||Tsui Hark
|Written by||Tsui Hark
|Music by||Richard Yuen
|Edited by||Marco Mak
|Distributed by||Golden Harvest|
Once Upon a Time in China II is a 1992 Hong Kong martial arts film written and directed by Tsui Hark, and starring Jet Li returning as Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-hung. It is the second film and first sequel in the Once Upon a Time in China film series. The iconic theme song A Man Should Better Himself (男兒當自強) was performed again by George Lam in the beginning of the film, and by Jackie Chan in the end credits. (Chan also sang the Mandarin version.)
In 1895, during the late Qing Dynasty, Wong Fei-hung travels by train to Guangzhou to attend a seminar on Western and traditional Chinese medicine. He is accompanied by his romantic interest "13th Aunt" and student Leung Foon. He gives a lecture on the benefits of acupuncture while a fellow Chinese doctor, Dr Sun Yat-sen, who helps him translate for the predominantly foreign audience.
The seminar is disrupted by the fanatical White Lotus Society - an extreme nationalist cult led by the sinister and seemingly-invincible Priest Kung. The sect aims to drive all foreigners out of Canton and has been killing Westerners and destroying everything regarded alien to Chinese culture. Wong later learns that his translator friend Sun Wen is actually the leader of a group of pro-democratic rebels aiming to topple the Qing government and establish a republic in China. Sun and his friend Lu Haodong are heading to Hong Kong to continue with their plans for revolution.
Wong decides to assist Sun Wen and the rebels but they encounter a Qing official called General Nap-lan, who stands in their way. Chaos ensue when the White Lotus Society attacks a foreign-language school for children. 13th Aunt brings the students to hide in the British consulate. Nap-lan suspects that the rebels are also hiding in the consulate and he orders his men to disguise themselves as cult members and attack the building. Wong defends the consulate while Sun Wen escapes secretly. Nap-lan then enters the consulate under the pretext of protecting the foreigners from the cult, while using the opportunity to search for Lu Hao-tung. Lu disguises himself as Leung Foon and follows Wong out of the consulate safely, while Leung pretends to be Lu and lures Nap-lan away. To put an end to the White Lotus Society's evil activities, Wong and Lu travel to the sect's headquarters to confront Priest Kung. Wong defeats Kung in a fight and the cult disbands.
Wong, Lu and Leung proceed to retrieve a hidden list containing the names of the rebels but run into Nap-lan and his soldiers. Lu is shot by Nap-lan's troops, but he manages to burn the name list to prevent the government from taking it. Wong fights Nap-lan while Leung helps Lu burn the list. Leung almost burns a piece of cloth that wrapped the list, but saves it from the fire. Lu tells Leung to hurry and meet Sun at the pier, but then succumbs to his wounds. Wong and Leung try to escape, but are cornered by Nap-lan. Wong engages Nap-lan once more and kills him. As day breaks, Wong arrives at the pier just as Sun's boat is leaving. He hurls the cloth to Sun, who opens it up to reveal Lu's design of a flag for the Republic of China.
- Jet Li as Wong Fei-hung
- Donnie Yen as Nap-lan Yun-seut
- Rosamund Kwan as "13th Aunt" Siu-kwan
- Max Mok as Leung Foon
- Zhang Tielin as Sun Wen
- David Chiang as Lu Haodong
- Hung Yan-yan as Priest Kung
- Yen Shi-kwan as Governor Chung
- Dion Lam as Chung's assistant
- Ho Ka-kui as Innkeeper Mak
- Paul Fonoroff as British consular
- Mike Miller as Dr Thompson
- Chu Kai-sang as White Lotus regiment commander
- Chun Kwai-bo as cult member
- Kong Chuen as cult member
- Chan Siu-wah as cult member
- Ling Chi-hung as cult member
- Leung Yat-ho
- Ho Chi-moon
- Chow Shu-kei
- Chang Kin-ming
- Wong Wai-leung
- Leung Shing-hung
DVD release date
Two years later, Hong Kong Legends DVD were released on 7 April 2003 at 3 disc set Tsui Hark's Once Upon a Time in China Trilogy.
- Sun Wen (Sun Yat-sen) and Lu Haodong are historical characters. The former was the founding father of the Republic of China while the latter was the designer of the Republic's emblem.
- The film is set after the First Sino-Japanese War. At the beginning there is a student protest against the Treaty of Shimonoseki in which Formosa (modern Taiwan) was handed over to the Empire of Japan.
- The White Lotus cult in the film is based on a xenophobic underground society called the "Righteous Harmonious Fists" (also known as the "Boxers" of the Boxer Rebellion). The cult also has references to the historical White Lotus, such as the cult of Maitreya.
- An "Eastern Extension Australasia and China telegraph company" office can be seen, where the locals are demonstrating outside.
The Taiwanese VHS release distributed by Long Shong opens with a 7-minute-long recap of the first film in series.
This version also includes scenes cut from the international releases:
- 13th Aunt tastes some medicine and says that it tasted bitter. Leung Foon tries it and agrees. Wong Fei-hung returns but they are unsuccessful in their prank on him.
- Lu Hao-tung discloses Sun Wen's plans for revolution. Wong Fei-hung protests angrily by saying that China should not experience any more turmoil.
- After the scene featuring children learning martial arts at the foreign-language school, 13th Aunt and Leung Foon discovers that they were writing their wills. Unexpectedly, Leung manages to raise their spirits by teaching them martial arts.
Awards and nominations
- 1992 Golden Horse Film Festival
- Won: Best Original Song (James Wong)
- 1993 Hong Kong Film Awards
- Won: Best Action Choreography (Yuen Woo-ping)
- Nominated: Best Film
- Nominated: Best Supporting Actor (Donnie Yen)
- Nominated: Best Director (Tsui Hark)
- Nominated: Best New Performer (Hung Yan-yan)
- Nominated: Best Art Direction (Eddie Ma)
- Nominated: Best Cinematography (Arthur Wong)
- Nominated: Best Film Editing (Marco Mak)
- Nominated: Best Original Film Score (Richard Yuen, Johnny Njo)
- Once Upon a Time in China II at the Internet Movie Database
- Once Upon a Time in China II at AllMovie
- HK Cinemagic