The movie takes place during pre-War World China. I think this movie took place right before WW1 when the Japanese along with all the other European countries were trying to cut up China into various pieces. In any case, Jet Li plays Chen Zhen, the star pupil of JingWu Men Kung Fu Society. Chen Zhen was studying abroad in Japan when he found out that his master was killed in a dual.
Upon receiving this news, he returns to China to further investigate the death of his master. This is a rather old movie and the story is not really that important since the fight scenes is the main focus here. Nevertheless, I will not reveal any more storyline. Basically, you see Jet Li kicking some major ass.
The movie did tackle or propagate some racial issues that still exist today. That is, the anti-Japanese racism which was so bold and disturbing throughout the whole movie. I found this to be quite drastic although it might have been true according to history, which are often one-sided. The anti-Japanese sentiments are still lively today.
There were huge protests in taiwan over a boundary disbute related to a fishing island. Numerous other boundary disputes between Japan and China have all resulted in many anti-Japanese protests that are always populated with references to this era. The time when China was being cut up like a pizza as everyone was staking out their slices.
Jet Li was just crazy sick in this movie. As you can see, hopefully, Jet Li was flying all over the place, ala MATRIX. Hmm, no wonder those fight scenes look so familiar. If you're a fan of great fight scenes, this is a must. The storyline and all the racist propaganda should not be taken too seriously as this is a old movie or re-make of an old movie.