The film Sakra returns to bring Donnie Yen in the wuxia genre which adapted from one of the most popular novels in China. Must take pains to introduce the character with all the background, but enchanting in a battle made grand and full of action.
Synopsis of the film Sakra Donnie Yen
Qiao Feng (Donnie Yen) abandoned and raised by a couple from the Han dynasty. Growing up as a very powerful martial artist, he framed for killing his parents and teacher. He then despised, especially after learning that he a descendant of the nomadic race, the Khitan.
He then met Azhu (Chen Yuqi), a servant who ordered to steal the holy book in Shaolin. Injured by his fight with the Shaolin monks, Azhu taken by Feng to find the best healer.
Feng meets the healer when his friends and other leaders gather. Cornered by accusations of murder and his Khitan race, he then challenges them all to a life and death battle in the hope that Azhu will be rescued by the healer if Feng defeats them all.
The majestic wuxia genre
The film Sakra presents wuxia, or the Chinese fiction genre full of adventures wrapped in martial arts, which is majestic and epic. The combination of practical effects and CGI presents a colossal impression with epic battles.
Kudos to Donnie Yen who managed to double as the main actor, director and producer in this film. But maybe because of the dense story, it will be difficult for the audience to get to know most of the supporting characters in the film who are present to coincide with the Chinese New Year 2023 celebration.
Admittedly, it’s not easy to introduce a row of characters that appeared in the original adaptation into this film. Even the duration of 132 minutes is still very dense to reveal the story about Qiao Feng and Azhu.
The narrative revolves around Feng leaving his band of brothers to investigate the truth about his biological parents. The first half seemed very rushed to introduce Feng’s character and background.
Only 30 minutes later, this film presents a much calmer story about Feng’s meeting with Azhu and the development of their relationship. Although in some parts, there are many scenes that feel forced.
But the film is all the more impressive when Yen adapts the novel’s most famous scene; where Feng walks in on a bevy of former allies and old enemies. Everyone swore to kill each other in a brutal, bloody fight.
Some of the annoying things are the CGI scenes that are less than optimal and not too smooth. Maybe it’s because there are too many scenes with computer technology considering how big the landscapes and battles are being shown.
Sakra Donnie Yen: Few from the original story
Sakra itself was adapted from a novel titled Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils by Jin Yong. This 16-volume novel, which was first published in 1963, tells of various characters from the kingdom with various types of Chinese martial arts.
If the original version has 3 main characters – Qiao Feng, Duan Yu, and Xuzhu – this film only takes the story of Qiao Feng. Although in several scenes, Yen presents Duan Yu (Zhao Huawei). But his presence was only fleeting and without even an introduction.
With too many characters, this film is not reluctant to present an adequate background story. It only relies on Qiao Feng’s story as the leader of the beggar group and his relationship with Azhu.
There are many sub-plots that come suddenly and disrupt the continuity of the story. Except for viewers who may have read the novels and TV series, both in 1982, 1997, and 2003 which also starred Jimmy Lin (90s girls still remember or not?).
Sakra is more captivating with fights full of fisticuffs and epic wuxia nuances. Very interesting for audiences who are familiar with the original story, but enjoyable enough for new audiences. Could be the start of an impressive and potential Wuxia franchise.