It was a quick decision to watch Sakra. I am a huge fan of Donnie Yen already for many decades and an avid reader and love to watch anything martial art since my childhood days. I love the feeling of challenged every time I watch Wuxia movie. The classic storyline of mastering excellence and enduring hardship until one can succeed, never fail to uplift and harden my resolve to do better. So reading the poster of a Wuxia movie headlined and directed by Donnie Yen, it is an easy decision.
Then I realize during opening title, the story is adapted from very classic novel of Demi God and Semi Devil (Tian Long Ba Bu) by Jin Yong written in the 60s. I have watched before Donnie’s version, two times, I watched the TV version by TVB in 1980s headlined by Brian Leung and then 2021 headlined by Tony Yang. In between there are many versions of movies and TV series, it is very classic extensively reinterpreted Wuxia movie.
In principle, the story revolves around the leader of beggar clan named Qiao Fang who is a supreme master of martial art. In all version, Qiao Fang suddenly get accused as Khitan, in which during the Song dynasty perceived as deeply an enemy and therefore qualify him as traitor. He is then on his quest to clear his name and along the way he met A Zhu and fell in love. At the same time, he battled his nemesis Murong Fu. In the novel and TV series, there are a lot more than this part of story, in which some are explained post end of movies (a la Marvel) and for those who have not seen the movies / TV series / read the novel before will feel between very dense and slightly confusing (similar feeling with Marvel universe). For sure, it is not a story to be condensed into 2+ hours movie, one cannot complain this is a slow pace or slow burn, it feels indeed so very fast paced.After all the 2021 TV version of Demi God and Semi Devil is of 54 episodes.
Sakra displayed elegance ( in a brute force kind ) fight choreography, which tno wonder given Donnie Yen is executive director, has been doing so for many years and as actor who was doing his own stunts. He has great sense of how fighting scene has to be synchronize, even the complex ones with a lot of people and a lot of weapons involved. Additionally, overall movies truly picturesque on frame by frame basis, the scenes are simply trademark Chinese beautiful cinematography especially the color proportion. This movie filmed in noir Wuxia old school style which to me makes it even more beautiful to watch even if the acting is average.Auditory-wise the movie is equallyenjoyable, the fighting scene audio to me orchestrated well to show what Wuxia fight should sound like. Its set of OST also well put with mix of Western cowboy-ish sound track instrumental on top of traditional beautiful guqin / guzheng laden songs (which I love a lot that it accompanies my winding down and working time).
Acting-wise, Donnie Yen delivered excellent performance at hislevel albeit more mature. His being 60 put limit on some of his performances and you can tell some of the scenes are made with this limitation in mind, however the traditional jumping from roof to roof and powerful fights are still part of the fight choreography. The rest of actors and actresses are less memorable as typical Wuxia movie focus on male and female lead only. Female lead is played by Yu Qi nicely in typical damsel-in-distress role Wuxia movie / TV series must have (although there is a powerful female second lead A Zhi as well) who is love of Qiao Fang.
It is totally entertaining Wuxia movie to watch during Lunar New Year with your family and friends. Not sure about it as movie date unless your date is Wuxia craxy like me. For those of you who loves Donnie Yen movie, this is a great must watch. Enjoy.
Xinnian Kuaile, Wanshi Ruyi.