The Avenging Fist (2001)

If a thrilling adventure into a dystopian future populated by superhuman kung fu fighters is what you crave, look elsewhere. “The Avenging Fist” is perhaps the most generic and unmemorable hybrid of sci-fi and martial arts you’re likely to see, and comes complete with a generous helping of laughably bad CGI and incomprehensible fight scenes that unfortunately offer little incentive to sit through.

Trailer

Cast

Leehom Wang and Stephen Fung portray a heroic duo of sorts in the form of talented martial artists Nova and Iron Surfer. Their supporting cast includes Kristy Yeung as Nova’s sister Belle, and Cecilia Yip as their mother Wing, while Yuen Biao portrays their father and founder of the “The Avenging Fist” fighting style, Thunder.

Sammo Hung portrays committed Hong Kong detective Dark while Gigi Leung portrays Nova’s romantic interest Erika, and Roy Cheung rounds out the cast as the villainous Combat 21.

Despite the best efforts of the talented cast, none of these character’s names or personalities are likely to remain in your long term memory for more than an hour after the film has come to an end.

Plot

In the near future in Hong Kong, a young and talented fighter named Nova dreams of one day getting a hold of the Power Glove, a device created by the government with the capability to tap into the unused mental and physical strength of the wearer. This would prove particularly advantageous for him given his expertise in the martial art “The Avenging Fist”, created by his deceased father Thunder from the strongest attributes of every discipline of kung fu.

Nova soon realizes he’s closer to the Power Glove than he knows when he finds himself the target of the rogue terrorist group led by the villainous former government agent Combat 21, who has kept his father alive and under his control for the past twenty years, and who hopes to use Nova’s genetic connection to Thunder to fully realize the potential of the Power Glove.

Action

As far as “The Avenging Fist” is concerned, a more fitting title for this section could be “What Action?” Corey Yuen’s name appears in the credits as martial arts director along with co-director alongside Andrew Lau. But it’s a tough pill to swallow that a man whose credits include “No Retreat No Surrender”, “Kiss of the Dragon”, “Yes Madam”, “The Transporter”, “Millionaire’s Express”, and both “Fong Sai-yuk” movies had anything to do with this.

The action scenes that are sprinkled throughout are filmed as if the camera itself is recovering from a severe alcohol binge. Virtually every fight in the film consists of characters zipping from one side of the screen to another in the blink of an eye and blurring into semi-transparency, and many of the fights barely last a full minute!

As for the Avenging Fist style or the Power Glove, the enhanced abilities they each grant to their users appears to largely consist of shooting poorly rendered CGI balls of energy and creating force fields by spreading their arms and looking skyward while screaming. The early 2000’s marked the point where CGI really began to pop up in Hong Kong movies, and the effects of “The Avenging Fist” are right from the bottom of a barrel that rests beneath several other barrels.

If you’re a fan of the “Tekken” video game franchise, you’ll probably be quick to pick up on the fact that characters like Nova, Iron Surfer, and Wing bear a rather uncanny resemblance to characters like Jin Kazama, Hwoarang, and Jun Kazama, and that represents a little behind the scenes history with the film. Producer Wong Jing hoped to acquire the rights to make a Tekken film from the game’s producer, Bandai-Namco, but failed to do so, and was forced to rejigger the film’s premise and characters. Perhaps that was ultimately for the best.

Not only is the action some of the most awfully filmed and edited ever to come out of Hong Kong, the abundant CGI is so terrible that the film might as well have been released with the actors standing in front of green screens. The script crafts a forgettable and generic dystopian future along with some of the most underwhelming and banal characters I’ve ever seen.  It seems as though the cast and crew were well-aware of this, since everyone goes through the motions of delivering dialogue and slogging their way through unexciting and incoherent action scenes.

In nearly every aspect, “The Avenging Fist” is a movie where the apathy of the cast and crew shows, and quite frankly, the MO for this confused production is hard to fathom.

Summary

There really isn’t a huge amount to say about “The Avenging Fist”. It’s a movie that’s both difficult to recommend and too bland and forgettable to hate. If you were to cover your eyes and randomly place your finger on any other title on Corey Yuen’s IMDB page, or that of anyone else in the cast for that matter, you’re virtually guaranteed to land on something far more entertaining and engaging than “The Avenging Fist”.

Trivia

  • Leehom Wang also appeared alongside Jackie Chan in “Little Big Soldier” and Mark Dacascos in “China Strike Force”.
  • Some of Stephen Fung’s credits include “House of Fury”, “Tai Chi Zero”, and “Tai Chi Hero”, the latter two he also directed.
  • Chin Kar-lok, who appears in the film as Jazz, has also appeared in or done stunt work on such films as “Drunken Master II”, “Wheels on Meals”, “Kinta 1881”, “Scorpion King”, “The Iceman Cometh”, “Millionaires Express”, and “Dragons Forever”.

Film Rating: 3/10

From the earliest days of childhood, Brad Curran was utterly fascinated by martial arts, his passion only growing stronger after spending time living in the melting pot of Asian cultures that is Hawaii. His early exposure developed into a lifelong passion and fascination with all forms of martial arts and tremendous passion for action and martial arts films. He would go on to take a number of different martial arts forms, including Shaolin Ch'uan fa, Taekwondo, Shotokan Karate and remains a devoted student, avid and eager to continue his martial arts studies. Brad is also an aspiring writer and deeply desires to share his love for martial arts and martial arts movies with the world!

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