When a respected martial artist is accused of killing, he goes around in search of answers about his own mysterious origin story and the unknown enemies working to destroy him.
Today when someone hears martial arts, Donnie Yen (John Wick 4, Ip Man) is one actor that definitely comes to mind. Fans around the world can’t get enough of this man, and I’m one of them. So when it was announced that Sakra would be his next full-length feature, it gained the expected amount of attention it deserves. This full-length film is adapted from the novel “Tian Long Ba Bu” (Demi Gods and Semi-Devils) by Jin Yong (Louis Cha) which is a wuxia style of film that can have its pros and cons through any depiction. These types of films are usually set in 11th-century China with large amounts of flying and/or light skills. My expectations were middle to high, and like some, I anticipated tight intricate personal hand-to-hand combat.
Sure everyone wants a great story during any television program or film, but most enthusiasts are showing up for the fighting, the battles, the wars, or any type of confrontation. What’s great about Sakra is you don’t have to wait too long before the characters are throwing hands at each other. Early on the fight choreography is a great mixture of everything any martial arts fan would want. There’s 1 on 1, 1 on 4, all gathered up ranging with excellent displays of weaponry and a little hand-to-hand combat. What enhances these scenes are the sound effects. Hearing the blades cut through the air, or come into contact with random objects whether it be a wall, desk, table or chair really enhances the mayhem. It felt like if there was a wrong move made by either party they would die, or be seriously injured. Characters did die or get hurt, and it was all spectacular and believable. Also, between each fighter was a clear level of skill and experience that was displayed compared to an average man. It was obvious that these men have been training for not just years, but decades, and it would be no easy task to defeat them. They were true masters of their art and were pulsating with confidence and a bit of arrogance. It’s hard to blame them when you see what they were able to do while in combat. Leaning over to the actual wuxia style of the fighting, this is usually done with wire in past entertainment and the weight of each actor doesn’t always come off as convincing. That’s not the case here in the slightest. Each performer actually looked as if this was realistic and they were performing the moves. The way they jumped from one floor to the next, glided across tables, ran across walls, and every other form of acrobatics was simply amazing! Things got even better when the warriors were able to display their control of their powers/abilities or in other words chi/ki. It was a visual treat, and somewhat of a love letter to this style of media. However the action martial arts aspects were not a perfect homerun, but still draw dropping at points that are spread over three fighting scenes throughout the entire film.
When it comes to the characters we’re led by Kiu Fung (Donnie Yen) who when we meet him is an orphan that just joined the Beggars Clan. They’re an honorable noble group of people who want justice and also have ties to the Shaolin temple. They have their own code of conduct and powerful members at the helm as well besides Kiu Fung. Kiu Fung will be a fan favorite instantly. He is nice, charming, and passionate about his worldview. He won’t start any strife, but will finish it if anyone else does. You of course want him to win, or even take you in as a student to learn all of his powerful martial arts secrets.
The problem with this film comes from the story. Kiu Fung is accused of killing a great leader, and he’s barely given the benefit of the doubt. The biggest issue is a large portion of these accusations are simply from him being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and in some cases by a matter of seconds. How would the story pan out if this wasn’t the case? The story wouldn’t have a real foundation to stand on which is problematic. Any other reason for blaming this man for being nefarious isn’t that convincing. It’s a shame that years of the relationship that he had with the Beggars Gang was so paper thin without any solid justification.
In addition to this, the real culprit was able to nearly accomplish their goal too easily and their reasonings behind it were a bit confusing. With this being a foreign language film, the subtitles weren’t populated long enough to make out every word of dialogue. Those that see this film in theaters I’m sure would have an issue.
For the rest of the story, it was revealed towards the end that a clear sequel is being set up for the future. There’s nothing wrong with this but the execution was a bit sour-tasting. Footage used towards the end of the film should’ve been used to further enhance the story early on, but it wasn’t. Overall, Sakra is at the very least enjoyable. Most viewers will be entertained. If only the story was as solid as the martial arts fighting this entire feature would be a definite banger. There still could’ve been more hand-to-hand combat, and the last battle was a bit anti-climactic compared to the first, however, I was still floored during certain moments and will have a pleasure viewing this film again.