7 January 2003 | hayabusa-1
The best Defence is not to make a bad film
`Apart from using his advanced Kung-fu skills, Jet Li demonstrates an incredible US boxing style, a completely different fighting style in this movie.'
The above is a direct quote from the back of the DVD box of `Born to Defence'. It is also a bold faced lie. The closest Jet Li gets to American boxing in this film is when he puts on a pair of boxing gloves and steps into a boxing ring in the middle of a seedy bar. All similarities between American boxing and Jet Li's style end there. The closest you'll see to a boxing style is Jet Li kickboxing, which is much more of a Thai style than an American one.
With the hype the DVD box gave to Jet Li using an American boxing style this was a bit of a letdown. For fans of Jet Li wanting to see him stick, jab, and shuffle, I highly suggest the movie `Fist of Legend', as there's a scene in that movie where Jet Li actually DOES show off a good flyweight style of boxing. `Fist of Legend' also happens to be the best Jet Li movie I've seen to date; and outclasses and outshines `Born to Defence' in just about every aspect of filmmaking.
`Born to Defence' was the directorial debut for Jet Li. It also marks the last time he directed a film. I found it interesting that this film was in Cantonese as opposed to Mandarin. If you watch this movie on DVD I highly recommend watching it in the Original Cantonese with English subtitles as both the Mandarin and English dubbing on the DVD are really, really bad! So bad at times the dubbers completely miss dubbing in lines of dialogue as you're watching the actors lips move in complete silence. As a director Jet Li keeps this film simple, it's Jet Li's character (ironically named Jet in the English dubbing) against the evil bullies of the U.S. Navy. `Jet Li vs. The U.S. Navy Bullies' would be a very apt title for this movie indeed.
The martial arts in this movie are poor as compared to other Jet Li films I've seen. The film also lacked a certain cohesion as well. Several key fight scenes are interrupted by very poor editing. In no fewer than 2 fight scenes the camera cuts away from Jet Li at a critical point in the fight. When the camera cuts back to Jet, we join the fight already in progress; the action picks up in real time, instead of picking up where the cut left off. In a martial arts film, the spotlight should be on your superstar, and any cuts to background actions should not result in the audience missing out on what could have been a great fight scene. For the lack of cohesion in the fight scenes, and my disappointment with the alleged boxing style this movie fails to deliver, I give it 4/10 stars.