Martial arts movies have been Job Done a global staple since the ’70s, especially in the United States. But there is a specific type of film that has captivated audiences in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan since the release of films like Zhang Yimou’s. Hero and Ang Lee’s Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger. Hong Kong actor Donnie Yen has been one of the many familiar faces in these genres, as he first became known for starring in the series Ip Man. Now, in 2023, he has returned to the wuxia genre with a new epic: sakra. Yen not only stars in the film but was also the director and producer.
Usually based on novels in the same genre, wuxia movies are a joy to watch on the big screen. The origins of this film are also found in a novel by one of the greatest wuxia writers of his generation: Jin Yong. Originally released in China during Lunar New Year 2023 and in the West later, sakra stars Yen, Chen Yuqi, and Cya Liu in the lead roles, though the focus is usually on Yen’s character Qiao Feng.
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In Hong Kong, this story has been adapted many times, but Sakra hopes to bring to life a beloved novel and author’s work. For two hours, Yen’s Qiao Feng not only engages in a large number of fistfights and finds a romantic interest, but also goes on an inner spiritual journey through everything going on in the background.
A story of redemption and soul searching
However, there is a big problem when it comes to sakra: As we go on this epic journey with Qiao Feng and seek redemption for everything that happened to him, there are no emotional stakes for the viewer to root for him through the process. The action scenes in which he takes on a ton of men twice his size in battle are entertaining, but at the end, comes the classic storytelling element that always leads to this question: “So what?” One might wonder what exactly they should take away from this movie, especially since Qiao Feng is not only distant from those he faces on screen but also from the audience.
By its end, sakra seems to be going through the motions of what’s expected of him, following the script paved from the source material. His relationship with Azhu also seems forced and necessary for the plot to move forward, because without something happening to her, he could be wandering the Chinese plains on his horse forever. without the action, and sakra it would just get repetitive and pointless, asking for too much investment from your viewers to keep it going.
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