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February 25th, 2002 Issue #97

Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- associate editor / film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.

NOTE: The review for THE LEGEND OF WISELY has been excerpted from The Hong Kong Filmography. Information about the DVD edition, written specifically for Hong Kong Digital, follows.

The Legend Of Wisely
(1985; Cinema City Co.)

Cover art courtesy Universe.

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Wai Si-lei chuen kei
Mandarin: Wei Sili chuan ji
English: The Legend of Wai Si-lei or The Legend of Wei Sili


Cinematographer: Peter Pau Tak-hei
A rt Director: Hai Chung-man
Music: Lo Tai-yau
Writers: Gerald Liu Kin-wai, Poon Yuen-leung, Philip Cheng Chung-tai
Producer: Sam Hui Koon-kit
Action Director: Blackie Ko Shou-liang
Director: Teddy Robin Kwan
Cast: Sam Hui Koon-kit (Wisely), Teddy Robin Kwan (David Ko), Ti Lung (Pak Kei-wei), Joey Wang Tsu-hsien (Sue Pak), Blackie Ko Shou-liang ("The Two Headed Snake"), Bruce Baron (Howard Hope), Heidi Makinen (Hope's Assistant)
VHS: Tai Seng (Poor Subtitles)
Import LD: Golden Cinema City
Import VCD: Universe
80 / 88 minutes
Also known as THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN PEARL (UK Video Title)

From left to right: Sam Hui Koon-kit, Blackie Ko Shou-liang, Joey Wang Tsu-hsien. Image courtesy Universe.

While obviously influenced by the Indiana Jones films, this large-scale epic is rousing entertainment that deserves to be better known in this hemisphere. Working in Nepal, science fiction writer / adventurer Wisely (or Wai Si-lei, the hero of several novels written by the prolific Ngai Hong) is enlisted by enigmatic billionaire Howard Hope to locate the former's childhood friend, David Ko. The diminutive David steals an oversized golden "Dragon Pearl" from a group of Buddhist monks, who regard it as a religious artifact. Wisely ends up helping to pull the heist, despite having journeyed to the distant temple only in the hopes of finding David. The pair escape by plane but it inexplicably loses power and Wisely must bail out. Thinking that David perished in the subsequent crash, Wisely wanders away from the wreckage but, later, is met by the leader of the monks.

From left to right: Ti Lung, Joey Wang, Sam Hui. Image courtesy Universe.

Although he is just a five-year-old boy, the monk possesses strong extra sensory abilities and Wisely agrees to help get back the pearl for him. Jetting back to HK, he finds David with gangster Pak Kei-wei, who seeks to harness the artifact's power. With the help of Pak's sister, Wisely convinces David to return the pearl and the trio escape from the triad's heavily guarded mansion. However, Pak is not about to give up that easily and neither is Hope, who also desperately wants the prize, but for a wholly different reason.

Sam Hui (foreground) and Teddy Robin Kwan (background). Image courtesy Universe.

A grand adventure, The Legend of Wisely packs a lot into its fairly short running time. In addition to the expected martial arts and motor vehicle chases, our heroes are pursued by armed brigands on camels, stumble into quicksand, discover underground chambers, and land in several other classic cliffhanger situations. The narrative takes an unexpected but pleasing turn in the final reel, successfully introducing science fiction elements into the mix. Lavish production design and beautiful location photography in The Himalayas, Kathmandu, and Egypt (courtesy of the great Peter Pau, who would later shoot SAVIOUR OF THE SOUL and THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR) make this one of the most visually stunning productions of its era. The dubbed version, released in the UK, runs eight minutes shorter.

Ti Lung. Image courtesy Universe.

DVD Specs:

Universe #5159
Dolby Digital 2.0
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks (both post-synched)
Optional Subtitles In English, Chinese (Traditional or Simplified), and Malaysian
8 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Clips
Letterboxed (2.43:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
85 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)
Contains moderate violence

DVD menu courtesy Universe.

Film Board Ratings and Consumer Advice

Australia: PG*
Great Britain: PG*
Hong Kong: I
Ontario: AA (Brutal Violence)

*These classifications apply only to the shortened English dubbed version of the movie entitled THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN PEARL, not the original Chinese release.


In the time since I originally wrote the above review, Universe has now also released THE LEGEND OF WISELY on DVD. Aside from some mild print wear, the PAL-converted master looks very nice, with rich colors, and the mono sound is fine. Measuring out at 2.43:1, the scope frame has been slightly overmatted but the small bit of missing vertical information is not missed. The supplements section offers up trailers for this film, A FAMILY AFFAIR, HAPPY DIN DON, and CHOCOLATE INSPECTOR. Also included are Star Files on Hui and Wang. THE LEGEND OF WISELY has also been released on DVD in Japan by Mega Star. That version offers 5.1 sound and Japanese subtitles, instead of the Malaysian ones on the Universe release.

Joey Wang. Image courtesy Universe.

THE LEGEND OF WISELY is available at Poker Industries.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2002. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

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