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Movie Critique: Iron Protector (2016) directed by Yue Song.
Movie Critique: Iron Protector (2016) directed by Yue Song.

Movie Critique: Iron Protector (2016) directed by Yue Song.

Yue Song, a Mainland Chinese actor, screenwriter, director, and fight choreographer, has extensive training in various forms of martial arts including Jiu-jitsu, Jeet Kune Do, Sanda, kickboxing, and MMA. He has recently returned to the film industry after his role in the mediocre “The King of the Streets” (2012), which was China’s first street-fighting movie.

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The main story of “The Bodyguard”, also referred to as “Super Bodyguard” or “Iron Protector”, revolves around Wu Lin, a follower of the Iron Feet clan portrayed by Yue Song. After his master’s demise, Wu travels to Lengcheng (Cold City), a modern metropolis, in search of his martial arts brother Li Jiang (Shi Yan Neng). While performing a split in the city square, similar to Stephen Chow in “Shaolin Soccer” (2001), Wu attracts the attention of a group of thugs who are chasing a wealthy businessman. He intervenes and successfully defeats the attackers, rescuing the man.

Unexpectedly, Wu is faced with a challenging situation as additional males dressed in black attire arrive. Yet, it is revealed that their leader, Li Jiang, is actually the person he has been searching for. Li, a former member of the Iron Feet clan, now manages a respected bodyguard firm. Naturally, Wu is assigned to protect Fei Fei (Li Yu Fei), the daughter of the wealthy businessman he previously saved. At the same time, a more formidable and malevolent gang schemes to seize control of the city, which includes abducting Fei Fei. This prompts Wu to pursue them alone.

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Yue Song, a lone warrior, captivates with his melancholic grin and expressionless demeanor in this classic martial arts film set in a contemporary world. Regrettably, the storyline heavily imitates other action films and lacks originality. Nevertheless, Yue truly shines with his intense and merciless fight scenes, although he falls short in delivering emotional depth.

Yue personally executed impressive choreography for the fights, with additional input from Shi Yan Neng, resulting in incredibly fluid and powerful scenes. The majority of the fights involve wire-enhanced one-against-many situations, including a standout moment where Yue takes on dozens of gangsters in a fierce warehouse brawl. However, there are also intense one-on-one battles where he faces off against the larger opponent Jiang Bao Cheng. Additionally, he has two fights against his rebellious classmate Shi.

Moreover, the movie includes an intriguing parkour and car chase scene, inspired by Jackie Chan’s style, that takes place in the city streets. This scene showcases Yue’s impressive abilities, particularly when he crashes through the front windscreen of a van. However, it is marred by numerous continuity errors and poorly filmed shots. Additionally, Yue’s use of heavy iron boots, a signature of his Iron Feet clan, diminishes the impact of this sequence.

Michael Chan Wai Man, a veteran, makes a memorable appearance, but we unfortunately do not get to see him in action. Collin Chou also appears briefly in a flashback fight. Li Yu Fei plays the role of a rich and spoiled brat named Fei Fei, who starts off as an annoying character but later warms up to her protector, Wu. Although there is a suggested romantic relationship between them, their on-screen chemistry is not strong enough to carry it through. However, Shi Yan Neng, who is always reliable, shines in his role as a sinful and angry student who resents his master for not teaching him the clan’s “Way of the 108 Kicks.”

The film is advertised in Mandarin as “Asia’s most brutal kung fu movie of the last 20 years,” but when translated into English it becomes “The best kung fu movie of the last 20 years.” While there is no denying the impressive dedication and effort put into the action scenes by leading man Yue Song, his stunt team, cast, and crew, it may be best for him to stick to acting and leave the writing, directing, and editing to professionals in those fields. The fight sequences are undeniably entertaining and a joy to watch.