by Jamie M MacDonald
“IN THE EARLY NORTHERN SONG DYNSASTY, THE COUNTRY WAS OFTEN INVADED BY THE KHITAN-LED LIAO DYNASTY. THE FORMER YAN KINGDOM`S OLD FORCES WERE SECRETLY PLANIING TO RESTORE THEIR POWER. TERRITORIAL DISPUTUES TRIGERRED WARS KINDNESS AND ENMITYWERE EVERYWHERRE, LOVE AND HATRED WERE IGNITED BY GREED AND JEALOUSY. NO ONE WAS AN EXCEPTION. THOSE WHO HAD FEELINGS WERE ALL CAUGHT IN THEM! “
Qian Feng (Donnie Yen) is the leader master of the Beggar Clan, his Martial Arts skills are exceptional, and he is greatly respected in the martial arts world. After returning from a mission, he is confronted by the clan’s elders. They present him with evidence of a murder that all points to him. Most intriguing of all is that he is shown a letter written by the victim that gives him motive for the crime. Wrongly accused, Qian starts to investigate as he digs deeper he reveals more about his own past. In doing so he will unlock the mystery of the murder, exposing the enemies from his past also the present that seek to destroy him!
Adapted from Jin Yong`s Wuxia novel Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils Sakra is both a visual treat for the eyes plus a full on mystery film. Who set him up and why? It weaves Donnie Yen from one exciting set piece to another aided with a very sharp script; the film plays through like a Kung Fu Noir. As well as the artwork that is the action scenes, my favourite scenes in the film are the conversations between Donnie and the characters he meets on his journey as they talk about their philosophies on life. The acting from all is top notch and engaging as you get drawn into the pages of the novel on film. For me it is Donnie Yen`s portrayal of Qian Feng that stands out in the film. He humanises the character in a way that makes you connect with him on his quest. Donnie has a natural charisma that just shines through always with a screen presence that suits the role very much of Qian Feng.
The film is co-directed by Donnie himself with Kam Ka Wai. The action directed by Kenji Tanigaki & Yan Hua with Donnie and his stunt team. The action design is a work of art, with fight set pieces that are truly stunning to watch and is only enhanced by some incredible wire work. I don`t want to say too much about the film`s story as that would just give away and spoil the treat of watching the revels as they unfold.
Will end with this, if I saw Sakra as a kid, I most definitely would`ve watched it every day for that week of the rental. Back in the good old days of VHS we could hire a film for a week, good times. Sakra is a martial arts film of depth that is very much epic in scale and storytelling. I adored it from start to finish!