Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!
Last week, I was in China for an Economics and History trip. It was my first time to Asia and was honestly a once in a lifetime experience. It was brilliant to embrace Chinese culture first hand and experience so many must-do excursions while on the trip. From the Great Wall of China to eating scorpions on Wangfujing Street, visiting the Terracotta Soldiers in Xi’an to seeing stunning historical sites up close and personal, like Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. While on the trip, we were fortunate enough to watch Chun Yi: The Legend of Kung Fu. It is a theatre production that shows one of the most notorious aspects of Chinese culture, Kung Fu.
At the Red Theatre in Beijing (but has been shown internationally at some points during it’s run), The Legend of Kung Fu tells the story of a young boy who is upset, as his mother has abandoned him at a temple. Here, he meets the ancient master of Kung Fu, who explains that there was once a boy, called Chun Yi, who was in the same situation as him. He had been abandoned by his mother and reluctant to join the dojo. Through a series of stories told through Kung Fu, we see how Chun Yi became the master of Kung Fu and is, in fact, the ancient master speaking to the young boy in real time.
Chun Yi: The Legend of Kung Fu combines intricately choreographed Kung Fu with some traditional dance, as well as some fantastic Kung Fu stunts. From being able to hang your body off of a spear by placing the spike under your chin to lying on a bed of nails then a slab of cement put on your chest before a sledgehammer breaks the cement slab and you emerge unscathed. Out of all the shocking stunts shown in the production, I loved one of the stunts in particular. The first was an adult Chun Yi who was able to shatter metal bars into shards by hitting against his head. Personally, I wasn’t entirely impressed by the stunts. No offence to the production team behind the Legend of Kung Fu, but I have in fact seen some better stunts performed. In 2015, my father took me to see Shaolin, a production showing some of the most daring and incredible stunts in Kung Fu. It had real Shaolin Monks (as there were in this production as well) hanging from their little finger while breaking metal bars against their body among other great stunts.
The choreography was amazing. I loved the mesmerising dance of Chun Yi and his lover spinning in the air in a well-performed aerobics dance. I must hand it to the young actors in the production. They were so talented for such young kids and were able to do flips and roly poly’s on their heads with such confidence and ease.
The storyline was admittedly a little weak. I completely understand the storyline is not one of the main concerns for the show’s creators, but I found that it certainly impacted my enjoyment of the production. There were two main issues for me. Firstly, it was very cliché. I thought the ending would have some greater significance to the story overall, like maybe the ancient master telling the young child that he would be Chun Yi and that maybe Chun Yi resides in all of us. But no, turns out that the ancient master is Chun Yi. I could’ve guessed that. That’s one of the most overused clichés in the book and left me a little disappointed after the show. Secondly, the story was quite unrealistic for me to believe. I understand that it’s a story, but there’s got to be a sense of reality that kicks in at some point. Chun Yi may be this wickedly talented Kung Fu god, but I want to see him face a challenge and experience some hardship. We only saw a brief glimpse into this when he battled some of the rival monks, but other than that it seemed that nothing was a challenge to Chun Yi.
Overall, Chun Yi: The Legend of Kung Fu gets a 7.0/10 from me. It’s a great production but I felt that I didn’t enjoy as much as I could have. If you do ever find yourself in Beijing and looking for something to do, I recommend going to the show. It makes for an entertaining night out, but don’t set your hopes too high.
For those wondering, China was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I am so glad I was able to go on the trip. I have so many awesome memories and can’t wait to return to the East soon! The trip wouldn’t have been as fantastic as it was if it wasn’t for the people who accompanied me on the trip, so thanks to my friends and my teachers for making this a trip that I will cherish with me for life.
Thanks for reading this weeks review. It’s not your typical movie review. It’s not even a movie! But if I’ve reviewed TV shows in the past (here’s a link to my TV show reviews in case you wanted to check them out), why can’t I review a theatre production? Follow me on Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures and everything else you need! Also, follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews.
Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. Join me next week when I review a comedy from 2018 that I finally got a chance to watch. See you then!