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Classics and discoveries from around the world, thematically programmed with special features, on a streaming service brought to you by the Criterion Collection.
Once Upon a Time in China
Directed by Tsui Hark • 1991 • Hong Kong
Starring Jet Li, Yuen Biao, Jacky Cheung Hok Yau
Writer-producer-director Tsui Hark’s sprawling vision of a changing nineteenth-century China begins with this riotously entertaining epic, a blockbuster hit that cemented Jet Li’s status as the greatest martial-arts superstar of his generation. Li displays his stunning, fast-and-fluid fighting style as the legendary martial-arts teacher and doctor Wong Fei-hung, who, with a band of disciples, battles a host of nefarious forces—foreign and local—who are threatening Chinese sovereignty as British and American imperialists encroach upon the Mainland. ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA’s breathtaking blend of kung fu, comedy, romance, and melodrama climaxes in a whirlwind guns-vs.-fists finale that is also a thrilling affirmation of Chinese cultural identity.