Review: Donnie Yen’s SAKRA is a Visually Amped Up Love Letter to Wuxia with Signature Action & Drama

Anytime there’s a new Donnie Yen film out, it’s a cause for celebration. This month alone, we have had a one-two punch combo of Yen films starting with his magnificent turn in John Wick Chapter 4 where he stole the show as blind assassin Cain. Couple that with his showing in the critically acclaimed Raging Fire a while back and Yen’s hot streak has been lit.

Yen not only stars in his latest offering but he also returns to the director’s chair after a few decades with his period martial arts epic Sakra. Yen might have said goodbye to the traditional Kung Fu film after Ip Man 4: The Finale but he is at it again with a wuxia spectacle that is dripping with visual delights and crowd pleasing fight sequences. Yen might have been a supporting character in John Wick, but here he is all front and center in front of and behind the camera for the Wire Fu epic that is reminiscent of what we got back in the glory days of Chinese and Hong Kong delights.

Here, Donnie plays Qiao Feng who is the charismatic leader of a group of martial arts nomads. Unfortunately for Feng, there are nefarious forces out against him and he is subsequently framed for murder. Forcing Feng to find answers, the warrior will find more conspiracies afoot and a bigger game at play that may cost him his life.

Based on the book by Louis Cha, this might be more of a niche film for Yen fans as the plot and story can get heavy handed and it’s hard to fully grab a viewer who is not familiar with the book. The pacing lags between the set pieces but when the action hits, it’s a visual feast for the senses. If you’re a fan of the book or of wuxia films in general then this will certainly please you.

I must admit that when it comes to the empty handed CQB action, I’m more of a fan of the grounded and realistic approach. I do love some extreme moves like aerial kicks and flash but I’m always about the technique and more complex motions. Here, we have the usual abundance of wire work and sped up adrenaline but Yen still manages to dominate each and every brawl he’s in regardless of the CGI or wires. Each fight is show stopping in their approach and I will say that as a non fan of these films, I was still vested in the action.

Yen oozes gravitas and charisma and he’s the perfect actor for this role as a non traditional fan of this genre like myself might not give it the time of day if someone else is in the role. Almost sixty, Yen looks phenomenal and moves just as crazy fast as he did back in the day as he’s proving there is indeed a fountain of youth. A distinct highlight of the movie is Feng taking on assailants while enjoying a bit of wine. It’s a real treat and demonstrates just how insanely talented he is as he mixes breakneck action with a little levity.

Sakra is also loaded with heavy handed drama and during the quieter moments, there is some touching nuances between Feng and Ahzhu (Chen Yuqi). Like I stated though, there is a great deal of lag and it’s running time of 130 minutes could have been trimmed a little to satisfy the casual viewer but those invested with the book will probably eat it all up.

Another reason why I’m giving this effort thumbs up is because Donnie is directing as well as starring in. With the icon behind the camera as well, he knows what he wants from every second of every scene. The fight sequence? Forget about it because Yen can do this in his sleep so all of the physical elements are in quite capable hands. Yen is simply a perfectionist and his eye is one that can truly capture all the ingredients to an epic like this.

Overall, Sakra is nothing short of a visual splendor with Donnie Yen again proving that he’s the reigning kink of martial arts cinema. Wuxia filmazate an acquired taste but the star pulls you in and never lets up until the credits roll. The wire work is a turn off at times but Yen still gets ample opportunity to showcase his signature skills with empty hands and weapons. The story might not be as enticing to a person unaware of the book but there’s enough hyper-kinetic thrills to be had and heaping amounts of drama. I’m a fan of Yen’s modern time efforts but he still wind me over with material that I normally don’t gravitate to. If you’re a fan of Yen then you should enjoy all that his Sakra had to offer.

VERDICT: 3.5 Out of 5 Stars


Donnie Yen is the reason to watch Sakra as he steals the scenery and amps up the fighting wizardry with esteem visuals and breathtaking choreography!

Sakra is now playing in theater’s country of Well Go USA!

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