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Fists Of Legend (Blu-ray Review)

Fists-Of-LegendCJ Entertainment imports another South Korean film to the United States.  This time its Fists Of Legend.  While its not even relatively close in subject matter, using the vice of reality television to tell this story reminded me that of Slumdog Millionaire.  But, anyway, this film is one that showcases the popular fighting of MMA as a centerpiece to this story of longtime friends with a troubled history reunited after many years of being estranged.  The film features some well directed action pieces and a great set of characters that will have you the viewer well invested fight-by-fight antsy to see who will win as if it was an actual match.  I was quite surprised at not only the quality of the film, but how much I was into it.

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Film 

Deok-kyu was a once Olympic hopeful boxer in his youth.  But now, in his 40s, he runs a noodle shop.  There is a show on TV called Fists Of Legend that pits older has-been legendary fighters together in the ring for prize money, and now they want Deok-kyu to participate.  Reluctant and first, he does take up the offer and becomes a celebrity and his noodle business starts booming.  Conflicts begin to flare up when the ultimate tournament is approaching, and the show taps his former best friend from high school to fight him in the ring.

Fists Of Legend was a pretty nice mash up between organized fighting and a kung fu film.  The film waivers a little back and forth between the characters coming up as teens and as their middle aged selves preparing for the big fight.  I found it interesting that all the kung fu and street fighting action took place in the characters’ youth and all the officiated, structured battles were done in their middle age.  It was a nifty balance and kept a film full of hand to hand combat far from being monotonous.

While they overplayed “Eye Of The Tiger” in this movie (something in a championship fighting film you really SHOULDN’T do, less you want to conjure up the audiences fondness for another film), I was able to look past it and keep my eye on this film at hand rather than be reminded of Rocky III.  I have to give this film credit, it really did a nice job of setting up these fights, clearly laying out the stakes, and keeping me invested and rooting for characters to make I through with a victory.  The free for all kung fu sequences are well film and fun and the MMA fights look as if you’re watching a really good live broadcast.

All in all, Fists Of Legend does tell a pretty interesting and investing story.  I was kind of worried at first about the reality TV aspect to the film, but that really was no bother and actually played for some enhanced drama as the story progressed further.  Also, while we have a main character who we are ultimately rooting for, the secondary players also have clear motivations and stakes that the film really builds an understanding of and even if we are against these people we kind of pull for them as well.  It’s a pretty solid, engrossing sports film experience.

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Video 

Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2:39.1

Clarity/Detail: This is a pretty sharp image that’s features a fine amount of detail.

Depth: There were some moments of depth when it came to the matches in the ring and in the restaurant.

Black Levels: This had a great level of contrast between blacks.  I would say it was solid level of black, able to make out details in the shadows, but not overly bright in the process.

Color Reproduction: The colors aren’t very striking here, but its as to be expected as these South Korean films always tend to look cold and as if they have cloudy days every day.

Flesh Tones:  The flesh tones were consistent, if a little cold looking.  Skin pores, sweat, cuts and gashes were all distinct and well defined during fights and close ups.

Noise/Artifacts: I didn’t notice any noise or artifacts when doing my pass.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): Korean 5.1 Dolby Digital, Korean 2.0 Dolby Digital, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The sound quality was at a consistent level throughout.  Disappointingly this is another CJ Entertainment title that forgoes a lossless track in favor of compressed ones.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer gives an effort, albeit a more minimal one, but its just below solid on the charts.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Speaker play was more front loaded, but there was a presence in the rear during the cage match sequences.  The right to left interplay got plenty of action throughout.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialoge was kind of low and more muffled sounding (but that is more due to the nature of being a compressed track).

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Extras 

The featurettes on this disc feel kind of distant and impersonal.  It’s a lot like you just found some footage and popped it on the disc without editing it or trying to construe some sort of narrative with it.

The Living Legend (HD, 22:11) – This is a lot of on set footage, you get to see some of how the stunts were done and a few interviews with the cast about the director while on set.

Cry Of 3 Men (HD, 7:02) – A look at recording a song on the soundtrack with the film’s two stars and producer in the studio.

I’m The Best (HD, 4:06) – Some footage of the cast doing a photo shoot for promotional images.

19th Outing (HD, 10:01) – A press conference, screening and Q&A of the film at some unnamed convention.

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Summary 

Fists Of Legend is a surprisingly brief-feeling 2.5+ hour film that focuses on the reuniting of close friends after a couple decades through a vice that brought them together in the first place; fighting.  CJ Entertainment displays it with a good video presentation and a disappointing (in choice) compressed audio track.  There’s some extras that feel hollow in terms of reaching an audience.  It’s a good movie, but you may be better off renting this one than buying it.


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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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