Fistful of Vengeance (2022)

Posted in Reviews by - June 18, 2022
Fistful of Vengeance (2022)

Instead of a second season of Netflix’s wacky Highlander-esque kung fu series Wu Assassins, the streamer offers up this feature-length sequel instead. The boys return – and it is mostly the boys, unless you include JuJu Chan, reprising her role as sassy assassin, Zan – a month after the events which closed-out the first season. We join them as they cause chaos in a Bangkok nightclub hunting for the killer of their beloved Jenny. The bromance involves hotheaded hunk Lu Xin (Lewis Tan), Jenny’s brother Tommy (Lawrence Kao), and the all-powerful yet completely benign Kai (Iko Uwais), now bestowed with god-like supernatural powers who, like his buddies, seems to have undergone a complete personality lobotomy since the show ended. Given the film’s swift 90-minute runtime, any sense of backstory or character is sidelined in favour of exposition and action sequences, so if you want to feel at all invested, a repeat viewing of the series would be a good idea. Their mission to find Jenny’s killer leads them to biotech billionaire William Pan (Jason Tobin), one half of an immortal sibling power couple with the notorious Thai crime lord, Ku (Yayaying Rhatha Phongam), who can vaporise her enemies and sets her sights on taking over the world. She must be stopped because “the fate of the world depends on it”, but given the film’s small scale, it never quite feels like the stakes are particularly high. And unlike the series, this tends to avoid jumping too far into the ethereal; instead, the focus is more on creating a relatively grounded, sexy, serious modern day beat-’em-up with close-up action filmed in the free-flowing John Wick style. There’s plenty of fighting – another exhausting showcase for series regulars and real-life martial artists Iko Uwais and Lewis Tan – with much of the practical action filmed in-camera. It looks great, but it does make some of the film’s crazier supernatural elements a little harder to swallow. Bizarrely, though, it’s also this incongruity that gives the film an odd charm – after all, there can’t be many contemporary martial arts films that can move from a sex scene to a boat chase to the resurrection of ancient 10,000-year-old warrior spirit. It moves quickly, too, so you don’t have much time to stop and pick holes.

AKA: Wu Assassins: Fistful of Vengeance.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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