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Once Upon a Time in China IV

Wong Fei-hung Zhi Sei: Wang Zhe Zhi Feng
1993 / 102m - Hong Kong
Action, Comedy
Once Upon a Time in China IV poster

The fourth part in the infamous Once Upon a Time in China series is the first one to introduce major changes in cast and crew. Hark Tsui was still around to help out with the story (hardly the most important part), Jet Li was replaced by Wenzhuo Zhao. Neither is a change for the better.

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The story of this fourth entry is split right in the middle, with Fei-Hung fighting against the Red Lantern Society on the one hand, while also trying to best the international teams in the lion dance competition. It's two stories rolled into one, with hardly a connection between the two, but it does allow for plenty of martial arts action.

Zhao certainly isn't bad, but he does lack the swiftness of execution Li has. The "pimped up" lions are also a bit crummy-looking, which doesn't help the second half of the film. The action is still impressive, so is the dynamic cinematography and overall pacing of the film. Once Upon a Time in China IV is superb genre filler and quite a bit better than you could expect from the fourth part in a franchise, but it lacks the polish to be anything more.