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|
|Distributed by||Golden Harvest|
Once Upon a Time in China II is a 1992 Hong Kong–Chinese martial arts film written and directed by Tsui Hark, and starring Jet Li as Chinese martial arts master and folk hero of Cantonese ethnicity, Wong Fei-hung. It is the second instalment 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 in Cantonese by George Lam at the beginning of the film, and by Jackie Chan in the end credits. (Chan also sang the Mandarin version.)
The film is set in China in 1895 during the Qing dynasty. Wong Fei-hung travels by train from Foshan to Canton; the capital of Guangdong; to attend a seminar on medicine. He is accompanied by his romantic interest 13th Aunt and apprentice Leung Foon. The situation in Guangzhou is rather chaotic. On one hand, there are protests in the streets against the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. On the other hand, the White Lotus Sect, an extreme xenophobic cult, goes around attacking Westerners and destroying everything regarded as alien to Chinese culture. At one point, 13th Aunt is almost captured by the cult when she tries to take a photo of them, but Wong shows up, fights with the cult members, and saves her.
Wong gives a lecture on acupuncture at the seminar while a Western-trained Chinese doctor, Sun Wen, helps him translate for the predominantly non-Chinese audience. The seminar is disrupted when the White Lotus Sect shoot flaming arrows into the building; Wong, Leung and Sun manage to escape safely. Wong feels that Canton is not safe and wants to bring Leung and 13th Aunt with him back to Foshan. However, just as they are about to leave, they learn that the White Lotus Sect is attacking the Tongwen Guan, a school for children to study foreign languages. They head over and save the children. The innkeeper refuses to allow the children to remain in his inn because he is worried about retaliation from the White Lotus Sect.
Wong goes to the yamen to ask if the children can take shelter there. He spars with a military officer, Nap-lan Yun-seut, who is impressed with his skill after a one-on-one fight but does not approve his request. In the meantime, Leung and 13th Aunt bring the children to hide in the British consulate, which is under siege by the White Lotus Sect. At the consulate, Wong meets Sun Wen again and learns that Sun and his friend, Lu Haodong, are part of an underground movement seeking to overthrow the Qing dynasty and establish a republic in China. Nap-lan shows up with his soldiers and tries to enter the consulate to capture Lu but the British consul stops him. That night, Nap-lan orders his men to disguise themselves as White Lotus Sect members after being blessed by them and break into the consulate. After some time, he leads his soldiers into the consulate under the pretext of protecting the consul and arresting the cult members while actually using the opportunity to hunt down Lu. He secretly kills the British consul when the latter sees through his ruse.
Lu disguises himself as Leung and follows Wong out of the consulate, while Leung pretends to be Lu to lure Nap-lan and his soldiers away. Wong and Lu then travel to the White Lotus Sect's base to confront Priest Gao Kau-kung, the cult leader. After fighting with the cult members and engaging Gao in a one-on-one fight, Wong defeats Gao and accidentally kills him by knocking him onto one of the three statues of the deities of the founders of the White Lotus Sect called the "Red Turbans" the cult members worshipped, and landing onto a protruding sharp point of the fingers that were used as the sign of the horns as seen in not only in the three statues, but also their cult members who worshipped them as well. While his followers mourn for him except for Wong and Lu, they also realised that he wasn't "the god of metal" at all; as it turns out that he was "the god of metal" and "no bullet can pierce through him", he was actually wearing protective body armour using his signature clothing to cover it, to look like that "he can withstand bullets" as Yim once told Wong in his last words that, "Martial arts cannot win against guns...".
Wong, Leung and Lu then proceed to retrieve a book, which contains the names of the revolutionaries, from a secret location, but they run into Nap-lan and his men. Lu sacrifices himself and reveals he is "the real Lu Haodong" and is shot by Nap-lan's soldiers after one of them shot Leung's leg; whom was mistaken for Lu; but manages to burn the book to prevent Nap-lan from getting it. Wong fights with Nap-lan while Leung helps Lu burn the book. Leung almost burns the cloth used to wrap the book. Before succumbing to his wounds, Lu stops Leung from burning the cloth and tells him to meet Sun Wen at the pier and pass him the cloth and finally died from his injuries.
Wong and Leung try to escape but are cornered by Nap-lan. During a one-on-one fight with Nap-lan, Wong is strangled in Nap-lan's "cloth stick" and struggles to escape but breaks a bamboo stick held in his hands with it during the fight and finally defeats and instantly kills Nap-lan by cutting his throat with a splinter from the broken bamboo stick. As dawn approaches, Wong and Leung arrive at the pier just as the ferry is leaving for Tong Ka Bay, Hong Kong. Wong throws the cloth to Sun Wen, who opens it up to reveal Lu's design of the Blue Sky with a White Sun flag along with his fellow friends and 13th Aunt watching next to him and mourning the loss of Lu Haodong. In the end, Wong shouts to 13th Aunt, "I'm going to really miss you!" and decides to return to Foshan from Canton by train with his apprentice Leung once again.
- Jet Li as Wong Fei-hung (doubled by Hung Yan-yan)
- Donnie Yen as Nap-lan Yun-seut
- Rosamund Kwan as "13th Aunt" Siu-kwan
- Max Mok as Leung Foon
- Lau Shun as Liu Yongfu
- David Chiang as Lu Haodong
- Hung Yan-yan as Priest Gao Kau-kung
- Zhang Tielin as Sun Wen
- Yen Shi-kwan as Governor Chung
- Ho Ka-kui as Innkeeper Mak
- Paul Fonoroff as the British consul
- Mike Miller as Dr Thompson
- Dion Lam as Governor Chung's assistant
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.
The Taiwanese VHS release distributed by Long Shong opens with a seven-minute-long recap of the first film. It also features some scenes that were cut from the international release.
Once Upon a Time in China II was a rare instance where a sequel to a Hong Kong film earned higher at the box office as compared to the previous film. It grossed a total of HK$30,399,676 during its theatrical run and holds a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Awards and nominations
|Awards and nominations|
|12th Hong Kong Film Awards||Best Film||Once Upon a Time in China II||Won|
|Best Director||Tsui Hark||Won|
|Best Supporting Actor||Donnie Yen||Won|
|Best New Performer||Hung Yan-yan||Won|
|Best Art Direction||Eddie Ma||Won|
|Best Cinematography||Arthur Wong||Won|
|Best Film Editing||Marco Mak||Won|
|Best Action Choreography||Yuen Woo-ping||Won|
|Best Original Film Score||Richard Yuen, Johnny Njo||Won|
|29th Golden Horse Film Festival||Best Actor||Jet Li||Won|
|Best Supporting Actor||Max Mok||Won|
|Best Action Choreography||Yuen Woo-ping||Won|
|Best Original Film Song||James Wong||Won|