Master martial arts stylist Donnie Yen will be featured in a remake of the classic martial arts film One Armed Swordsman later this year in a film entitled WU XIA (its American release title will be DRAGON). Yen's work is consistently wonderful, and the story of One Armed Swordsman is quite compelling. Our friend David Chute did commentary for a Dragon Dynasty release of the film a couple of years ago. I recommend you go out and buy a copy.
The choice of Wu Xia as the title of the film can be translated a number of ways -- including "armed swordsman" -- but most of the translations infer a kind of moral code on the part of the hero. Western readers have tales of chivalry and tragic sagas. Chinese readers and viewers have wuxia tales of larger than life heroes who often seek to leave the "world of martial arts" behind them, only to be drawn back into a life of violence. The films and stories are often deeply melodramatic and filled with wonderful commentary on the role of honor, romance, and justice. It is no wonder that so many of these films get made, and remade.
The decision to call WU XIA by the title DRAGON in the US seems an odd one, and one that is hopelessly trapped in associating martial arts films with Bruce Lee and his legacy. To be fair, Bruce Lee is one of the greatest martial arts stars the world has ever known. But are American audiences so limited in their appreciation of the genre that they need a title like DRAGON to bring them in?
I think not. The preview speaks for itself and demonstrates a combination of martial arts realism with a touch of wuxia wire work. This looks to be an engaging and exciting film.