Fox Legend (HK 1991)

Rating: **
Review Date: 3/17/12
Cast: Joey Wang, Wu Ma, Wai Yiu

Stop me if you've heard this before: Ethereal Joey Wang plays a melancholic spirit who falls in love with a human, while ghost hunter Wu Ma is determined to track her down and destroy her. It's a tried and true formula, but unfortunately this iteration is surprisingly poor. The Wei family is known for their fine fur coats, including the famous Thousand Dragon Coat which is made from the armpit hair of one thousand snow foxes. The family is also cursed because of this coat, and the Nine-Tailed Fox Demon (Wai Yiu) wants revenge. She also wants to resurrect the Sky Demon, which requires the Wei family seal and the heart of the only living heir, Shi-Lang. A fox spirit named Snow (Joey Wang) is sent to seduce Shi-Lang, steal the family seal, and carve out his heart, but she can't bring herself to do it. She repeatedly betrays and rescues Shi-Lang through the entire course of the film, which gets tiresome pretty quickly. How many times will this idiot fall for her lies, and how many times will she try to kill him? Then Wu Ma shows up to complicate things even more. And in case you were wondering, he does have a singing and dancing number towards the end of the film. At least the formula is consistent.

The film looks pretty good for the most part, with dreamy lighting, billowing gauze, and lots of smoke. Unfortunately, the action scenes and wire stunts look fairly low budget and lack energy, precision, and flair. Joey Wang looks wonderful, although she's played this role so many times that she can probably do it in her sleep. All she really has to do in the film is look sad and pretty, make broad sweeping gestures with her arms, and delicately bring her hand under her chin from time to time. Her sister, Silver, is also quite pretty, but not as graceful. The actor who plays Shi-Lang isn't particularly interesting, and we're never invited to care about him. Wu Ma's character (Hunt King) is brash and unlikable, which forces the audience to side with the pretty fox spirits. Sadly, the film is an unfortunate misfire as far as Hong Kong ghost stories go. It brings nothing new to the genre, and other films have done a better job with the same material. As an amusing side note, fox spirits have powerful farts which they like to use in battle, although Snow is far too delicate to resort to such tricks. (or maybe Ms. Wang has a "no farting" clause in her contract)

Memorable quote: "Kindness to your enemy is nothing but self-inflicted cruelty."