Fantasia Film Review: The Final Master

final_master

Director and writer Xu Haifeng is well known for the Fantasia crowd, in particular those of us who have had the pleasure of seeing his previous works. The Sword Identity and Judge Archer were both official selections for Fantasia (2012 and 2016 respectively). They don’t share a story and neither does The Final Master, but there seems to be a sort of weapon-based continuity (sword, bow & knives).

Speaking about weapons, that’s precisely what the story calls for and delivers in spades. And lances, swords, spears, knives and blades of all sort of size and configuration. The incredible thing is how each battle fits into the narrative. This is not a case of the story put on hold during the action sequences. Everything is part of the flow.

The specialty of Master Chen is Wing Chun, and he wishes to open a school in Tianjin. But the city is already crawling with several martial arts schools, so Grandmaster Zheng recommends Chen uses a local apprentice to be accepted. Meet Geng, willing to learn and even more willing to make trouble. Geng is a quick study and soon enough he’s challenging and defeating other martial schools. When he gets eight, Master Chen can open his school.

Or can he? Tianjin’s schools are confabulated against him and more than willing and able to put obstacles in his way. Chen, who’s also trying to arrange himself a wife from Zhao, who’s not too keen on his advances. Pretty soon, Geng starts to win and the schools must come up for a way to save face and stop Chen and his disciple.

Highly recommended for martial arts enthusiast as a well balanced movie in terms of action and plot. The incredible attention to detail plus the amazingly choreographed battles really put this movie in the same genre than countless other but in an achievement class of its own.

That will do for now.

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