• Wu Dang



    Released By:
    Well Go USA
    Released On:12/04/2012
    Director: Patrick Leung
    Cast: Wenzhuo Zhao, Mini Yang, Siu-Wong Fan
    Year: 2012
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    The Film:


    It’s not the first time that a leather-jacket wearing professor has carted a little Asian kid around the globe looking for treasure, but Patrick Leung’s film Wu Dang packs enough wire-fighting action to give Dr. Jones and Short Round a run for their money. Searching for a mythical sword made out of a meteorite, Chinese-American professor Dr. Tang (Vincent Zhao) brings his daughter Ning to the Wu Dang mountains to take part in a martial arts tournament. Also taking part is an attractive young woman named Tianxin (Mini Yang), who has beaten an invitation to the tournament out of a participant, believing that the sword belongs to her family.

    Unbeknownst to both of them, the treasure map that has led them to the mountain range was fabricated by a denizen of the mountaintop’s Shaolin temple, who needs to find the sword and six other treasures to fulfill his evil wish to become a holy, invincible spirit. If that’s not weird enough for you, enter temple monk Shui Heiyi, the Wu Dang school’s inexperienced competitor who must learn the art of sleeping Kung Fu if he hopes to win; and who becomes involved somewhat romantically with the very young Ning at the insistence of his mother.

    Wu Dang has a whole lot of flaws, and they show pretty heavily; the story never seems to flesh out enough of the character’s stories outside of Ning to really draw the viewer into any kind of empathetic involvement. The idea of “Sleeping Kung Fu” is pretty nifty, but aside from a couple of nifty looking sequences, the premise is largely ignored; and why are these treasures so damn easy to find? When you add the extreme suggestion of potential pedophilia between Heiyi and Ning, well, only the introduction of a couple of smiling, dancing magical herbs could make the film any more outrageous.

    So, what makes Wu Dang enjoyable? It’s mainly the combination of two tried-and-true formulas, the quest/adventure film and the classic martial arts film. Tang and Tianxin aren’t interested in fortune and glory, they’re interested in the treasure for more wholesome, justifiable reasons, and teaming them up makes them twice as likeable. Add to that the wire-fighting sequences, in which the choreography is only marred by the slight blurring of computer enhancement, as well as some nifty costumes and breathtaking scenery, and the flaws take a back seat to the overall enjoyment of the film; the battle on the bamboo floats in the river is a perfect example. By the time the film gets to the more outrageous “holy spirit” segment, the viewer is already committed to seeing the evildoers defeated. If you’re looking for inspired writing and characters with longevity, you might be looking in the wrong place…but if you want well-done action scenes and entertainment value, you’ll find it in Wu Dang.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Well Go USA bring Wu Dang to blu-ray with a 1.78:1 transfer that looks great, with solid black levels and a sharpness and clarity that only loses focus when the scenes are (obviously) enhanced by computer graphics. The night scenes pop with detail, and there’s nary an artifact to be found.

    The Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is on par with the video, putting the surrounds and subwoofer to good use during the action sequences. Dialogue is clear and consistent, which is really helpful if you speak manadarin. Unfortunately, the subtitles (white) don’t always stand out as well as they should against some of the backgrounds, and there are a few QC errors in the text.

    A Behind the Scenes featurette which runs about a half hour, is annoying as hell to watch and plays out like a slow motion music video with the occasional snippet of interview dialogue, and will probably give you a headache and make you have to go to the bathroom about ten minutes in. A trailer for the film is also included.

    The Final Word:

    Entertaining, action-filled and enjoyable, Wu Dang is a modern throwback to classic martial arts films.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!