- Once Upon a Time in China (film series)
Once Upon a Time in China film series
Once Upon a Time in China DVD box set for the first 3 films
Traditional 武狀元黃飛鴻 Simplified 武状元黄飞鸿 Mandarin Wǔ Zhuàngyuán Huáng Fēihǒng Xì Liè Cantonese Mou5 Zong6 Jyun4 Wong4 Fei1 Hung4 Hai6 Lit6 Directed by Tsui Hark (I, II, III, V)
Yuen Bun (IV)
Sammo Hung (VI)
Produced by Tsui Hark (all)
Raymond Chow (II)
Ng See-Yuen (II, III, IV, V)
Dick Tso (VI)
Written by Tsui Hark (all)
Leung Yiu Ming (I)
Tang Pik Yin (I)
Yun Kai Chi (I)
Chan Tin-suen (II)
Cheung Tan (II)
Elsa Tang (IV)
Starring Jet Li (I–III, VI)
Vincent Zhao (IV–V)
Music by James Wong
Wu Wai Lap
Cinematography Chan Tung-Chuen
Editing by Marco Mak
Studio Golden Harvest
Distributed by Golden Harvest
China Star Entertainment
Release date(s) 1991–1997 Running time 657 min. Country Hong Kong Language Cantonese
Once Upon a Time in China (Traditional Chinese: 武狀元黃飛鴻; literally Martial Arts Champion Wong Fei-hung) is a Hong Kong martial arts action/adventure film franchise directed, written, and produced by Tsui Hark. The stories are based on the life of the legendary kung fu master, Traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, and Chinese folk hero, Wong Fei Hung. Jet Li portrayed the hero in films I, II, and III, with Vincent Zhao replacing Li in films IV and V.
The first two films of the franchise were among the most popular of the Golden Age of Hong Kong cinema (usually dated from 1986 to 1993) and were well known for their depiction of Chinese nationalism as well as fighting choreography. Once Upon a Time in China was Jet Li's largest hit at the time.
Using the renowned kung fu master and doctor as the main character, the films deal with the negative effects of Western imperialism in China. The second film has Dr. Sun Yat-sen a revolutionary leader and the founding father of the Chinese republic, as a character. Unlike the majority of Hong Kong action films, the Once Upon a Time in China series is clearly politicised. However, as they were regarded foremost as commercial entertainment films, the political implications seem to have had less impact. Moreover, the main thrust is non-partisan nationalism, and because Sun Yat-sen is highly regarded by both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (on Taiwan), the films are not as politically divisive as they may seem.
The films are:
- Once Upon a Time in China (黃飛鴻) (1991)
- Once Upon a Time in China II (黃飛鴻之二男兒當自強) (1992)
- Once Upon a Time in China III (黃飛鴻之三獅王爭霸) (1993)
- Once Upon a Time in China IV (黃飛鴻之四王者之風) (1993)
- Once Upon a Time in China V (黃飛鴻之五龍城殲霸) (1995)
- Once Upon a Time in China VI (黃飛鴻之西域雄獅) aka Once Upon a Time in China and America (1997)
- Last Hero in China (黃飛鴻之鐵雞鬥蜈) (1993) - a derivative of the original film that differs in tone from the rest of the series, containing stronger elements of violence and broader, more slapstick, comedy.
In addition to the various individual DVD releases, the first three films in the series have been released in a number of collection box sets.
- On 17 July, 2001, Columbia Tri-Star / Sony released the films in the US in a 2-disc box set, with the second disc being double-sided, containing Once Upon a Time in China II on one side and Once Upon a Time in China III on the other. In creating the discs, Colombia took a non-anamorphic master and interpolated it to make it anamorphic. The films in this release feature Cantonese and Mandarin soundtracks, with English, Spanish and French subtitle options.
- Columbia Tri-Star later re-released the "trilogy" in a 3 disc version of the box set.
- On 7 April, 2003, they were released by Hong Kong Legends. This release contained extras including interviews. The first film featured an audio commentary by Bey Logan and Mark King. The second and third films featured commentaries by Logan on his own. The films are presented in their original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with Cantonese audio and English subtitles, as well as English dub tracks.
- In 2004, the trilogy was released in re-mastered version in Hong Kong by Joy Sales / Fortune Star's under their "Legendary Collection" banner.
- Hong Kong based company Kam & Ronson Enterprise have announced that they will release the first three films on Blu-ray Disc in June 2009. The first film was released on 18 September 2009. 
- The theme song to the Once Upon a Time in China series is taken from the Ming Dynasty folk song "Under the General's Orders"; the version used for the films is entitled "A Man Should Better Himself" and was written by Wong Jim.
- The Cantonese version of the song is sung by George Lam and the Mandarin version is sung by the martial arts actor and film director, Jackie Chan.
- The theme has long been associated with the Wong Fei Hung legend, appearing in some form in many early films about him. It was used in the 1978 Jackie Chan film Drunken Master, which was also about Wong Fei Hung. It also was notably used in the 1983 Sammo Hung film Winners and Sinners. It played during a market scene whilst the Five Lucky Stars are watching two men demonstrating the beneficial effects of their medicines and their Kung Fu stances, obviously in reference to Wong Fei Hung.
- The theme was also sampled by Ninja Tune artist, Quincy, for a track entitled "Bruce Lee MC", which can be found on the Xen Cuts compilation album. The track also contains samples of Bruce Lee's fight vocalisations.
Character Film I II III IV V VI Wong Fei-hung Jet Li Vincent Zhao Jet Li 13th Aunt Rosamund Kwan Rosamund Kwan Leung Foon Yuen Biao Max Mok Clubfoot Hung Yan-yan Porky Wing Kent Cheng Kent Cheng Bucktooth So Jacky Cheung Roger Kwok Power Chan 14th Aunt Jean Wang Wong Kei-ying Lau Shun
As was relatively common in the Hong Kong film industry, the successful Once Upon a Time in China series quickly gained imitators. Whilst these films also focussed on Wong Fei Hung, they were not part of the series, and had different stars and directors. They include:
- Once Upon a Chinese Hero - Directed by Wu Ma and starring Yuen Biao as Lau Zhai. In some releases this had the alternative titles Kickboxer and Once Upon A Time In China 6: Kickboxer.
- Once Upon a Time a Hero in China - Directed by Lee Lik-Chi and starring Alan Tam, Eric Tsang and Simon Yam.
- Once Upon a Time a Hero in China II - Sequel directed by Lee Lik-Chi and starring Alan Tam and Eric Tsang.
- Great Hero from China - Directed by Hwang Jang Lee and starring Chin Kar-lok and Lam Ching Ying.
- Wong Fei Hung TV series - also known by the alternative title Once Upon a Time in China and directed by Tsui Hark.
However, one imitator had more direct links with the original series, Last Hero in China (黃飛鴻之鐵雞鬥蜈蚣). This film was released in 1993 after the original Once Upon a Time in China trilogy. It is derivative of these films, and unlike other imitation films, it can be considered a spin-off or spoof to some extent. It was directed by Wong Jing in place of Tsui Hark. The film's action director was Yuen Woo-ping and once again it starred Jet Li as Wong Fei Hung. However, it differs greatly in tone from the Once Upon a Time in China series, containing stronger elements of violence and broader slapstick.
- A VideoAsia DVD
- Wong Fei-hung aka "Once Upon a Time in China" at the Internet Movie Database
- Wong Fei-hung ji yi: Naam yi dong ji keung aka "Once Upon a Time in China II" at the Internet Movie Database
- Wong Fei-hung tsi sam: Siwong tsangba aka "Once Upon a Time in China III" at the Internet Movie Database
- Wong Fei-hung zhi sei: Wang zhe zhi feng aka "Once Upon a Time in China IV" at the Internet Movie Database
- Wong Fei-hung zhi wu: Long cheng jian ba aka "Once Upon a Time in China V" at the Internet Movie Database
- Wong Fei-hung chi saiwik hung si aka "Once Upon a Time in China and America" at the Internet Movie Database
- Wong Fei-hung chi tit gai dau neung gung aka "Last Hero in China" at the Internet Movie Database
Once Upon a Time in China Films TelevisionWong Fei Hung Series (1996) Related filmsGreat Hero from China (1992) · Once Upon a Time a Hero in China (1992) · Once Upon a Chinese Hero (1993) · Last Hero in China (1993) · Once Upon a Time a Hero in China II (1993) Films directed by Tsui Hark 1970sThe Butterfly Murders (1979) 1980s 1990sThe Swordsman (1990) • King of Chess (1991) • Once Upon a Time in China (1991) • The Raid (1991) • Once Upon a Time in China II (1992) • Swordsman II (1992) • Green Snake (1993) • Once Upon a Time in China III (1993) • The Lovers (1994) • Once Upon a Time in China V (1994) • Love in the Time of Twilight (1995) • The Blade (1995) • The Chinese Feast (1995) • Tristar (1996) • Double Team (1997) • Knock Off (1998) 2000s 2010sDetective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010) • The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate (2011) Collaborating director Cinema of Hong Kong Films by year:
1909–1929 · 1930s · 1940s· 2011 · 2012
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