Nova and his family are the only practitioners of the martial arts style, known as Avenging Fist, which, when combined with the power glove developed by Nova's father, gives access to the superhuman powers within "God's No Access Zone" - the untapped 90 per cent of human potential.

When Nova displays the Avenging Fist in public he attracts the attention of the evil Combat 21, who decides that he wants the power of the style for himself and his Red Dragon Army...

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A disclaimer at the end of the film states that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the video game Tekken.

Yeah, right.

Films based on, or "inspired by", computer games tend to be utter crap, or okay so long as one doesn't mind the absence of fundamentals, such as plot and characterisation. Avenging Fist falls into the latter category. There's little beyond the impressive eye-candy on show.

Co-director Andrew Lau, the man primarily responsible for introducing Hollywood-style CGI to Hong Kong, with Stormriders a few years back, is an impressive stylist. But even more than Luc Besson - whose The Fifth Element was clearly one of many inspirations for the look of the film, along with Blade Runner, The Matrix and Star Wars, to name only the most obvious - there's no substance to back up the style.

Put simply, Avenging Fist is soulless.

In the casting of old-school stalwarts Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao and Cecilia Yip one gets the impression the filmmakers hoped to engender something of a baton passing from one generation to the next. Unfortunately it backfires. The younger performers - including a pop idol - might look pretty, but largely lack the presence and Peking Opera chops of their older counterparts who, meanwhile, are given insufficient opportunities to show what they can do, without recourse to all this computer trickery. Biao's features are hidden behind a colander-like mask most of the time, while Hung gets to be the butt of fat man gags.

If you're the sort of person who prefers Star Wars: The Phantom Menace to Star Wars, then The Avenging Fist might appeal. But if you want something more than just flashiness - the suprise success of The Matrix in taking mindshare away from The Phantom Menace demonstrates that many of us do - stay away.

Reviewed on: 27 Oct 2002
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Hong Kong martial arts stylefest, inspired by computer game and incorporating superhuman powers.
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Director: Andrew Lau, Corey Yuen-kwai

Writer: Chan Sap-sam

Starring: Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Lee Hom-wong, Stephen Fung, Kristy Tang, Gigi Leung, Chin Kar-lok, Cecilia Yip

Year: 2001

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Hong Kong


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