In which pretty much everyone is in over their heads.
4) Jen Yu vs Various Martial Artists
- Jen Yu, having ditched her cool black outfit in favor of a man’s clothes. Played by Zhang Ziyi.
- Armed with: the Green Destiny and one heck of an attitude.
- A whole restaurant full of professional (though they come off more like amateurs against Jen’s Wudan skills) warriors. They have names like Monk Jing, Shining Phoenix Mountain Gou, and Iron Arm Mi. Played by various actors and stunt men.
- Armed with: again, a wide variety. Swords, clubs, staffs, and one guy has iron bracelets under his sleeves. If you guessed that that guy is the one called “Iron Arm Mi,” you win a cookie.
The Setup: Fleeing from both her wedding and the smothering attentions of her erstwhile bandit paramour, Jen has re-stolen the Green Destiny and hit the road. Disguised as a rather feminine-looking man, she’s shown up at a restaurant/inn, but between her ostentatious sword and Too Cool For School demeanor, she’s attracted some unwanted attention. Soon enough word gets out about this fresh fish, and a whole soccer team’s worth of kung fu fighters shows up to teach her a lesson. Iron Arm Mi seems to be the alpha dog of the group and he takes the lead in talking to her (“I’ve got the death sentence in twelve systems” he doesn’t say, but might as well), but she disrespects him until he’s provoked into attacking…
The Fight: … at which point she defends herself and sends him flying, though not before embarrassing him and revealing his hidden armaments. After some more talk and the irritating coincidence of one of the other fighters sharing a name with Jen’s new husband, she basically goes nuts and attacks them all in a frenzy.
“Frenzy” being the operative word here. Jen is all over the place and not shy at all about using her acrobatic Wudan powers. Between her skills and powerful blade she’s basically unstoppable; there’s never really any sense that she’s in danger during the course of the fight.
It is, however, a LOT of fun. Jen is just a whirling dervish of destruction, taking on opponents from all sides, flitting in & out of various rooms and up & down inside the multi-story building. The building itself isn’t spared from her fury, either, as she bashes opponents against furniture and through walls. For the most part the fights here have been one-on-one contests of skill (even the six-person brawl that was Fight #2 is basically just a series of duels with alternating partners), so it’s nice to see the movie embrace the other action tradition– that of the lone warrior mowing down an army of adversaries. Her blows here are purposely non-lethal, too, so aside from the minor scars and property damage this is a guilt-free romp.
It’s also a welcome break from the seriousness that hangs over much of the rest of the film; as I talked about before, most of the fighting in the movie is about the expression of emotion, and in this case, it’s Jen being fully free and empowered– she is kung fu woman, hear her roar. Her dialogue and ostentatious theatrical flair (she even ends the fight with a dramatic pose) clearly show Jen’s playing out a fantasy. She has no real long-term plans and her playing at Vagabond Warrior Girl can’t last for long, but she’ll enjoy her freedom while it lasts.
At one point, Jen declares she is “the Invincible Sword Goddess.” Which just about says it all.
Coming Attractions: The best thing.