Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen is set in the period before the Second Sino-Japanese War. Chen joins a group of Chinese men who help the Allies fight the Germans in France during World War I. He returns to China after the war and takes on the identity of Qi Tianyuan, a comrade who was killed in action. Back in Shanghai, Chen joins an underground resistance movement to stop the Empire of Japan from invading China. He befriends Liu Yutian, the owner of a nightclub frequented by foreign dignitaries. He becomes attracted to Kiki, a nightclub singer who is actually a Japanese undercover agent. One night, Chen discovers that the Japanese are planning to assassinate General Zeng, the son of a northern warlord, and push the blame to General Zhuo, a rival warlord. Zeng’s death will spark off a civil war between the two warlords and aid the subsequent Japanese invasion. Chen disguises himself as a masked superhero and defeats the assassins and saves Zeng. With the operation failed, Tokyo sends a name list of anti-Japanese activists to Colonel Chikaraishi Takeshi, the leader of the Japanese secret agency in Shanghai, ordering him to kill the people on the list. Chikaraishi leaks out the list, causing panic among the populace, and pays a visit to the nightclub. Chikaraishi is aware of Chen’s true identity and he challenges Chen to save the people on the list. Chen and Chikaraishi engage in a race of time to save and assassinate the activists respectively. Some are killed while others managed to escape from Shanghai. Eventually, Chikaraishi’s younger brother leads a team of assassins to murder the editor of the Shanghai Times. Chen kills Chikaraishi’s brother, but fails to save the editor in time. In the meantime, Chen figures out that Kiki is a spy and warns her to leave. Chikaraishi starts to distrust Kiki and forces her to kill General Zeng’s girlfriend, one of her close friends. The blame is pushed to General Zhuo and the angered General Zeng attacks Zhuo with support from Japanese forces. One night, the Japanese corner Chen on the street and bring him to their headquarters to torture him. Concurrently, Chen’s friends stage a raid on the Japanese headquarters and cause serious damage with explosives before fleeing the scene. The Japanese track down Chen’s comrades and murder them in revenge later. Chen is thrown out of a car in front of the nightclub and remains in coma for days while he recovers from his injuries. With the Japanese invasion underway and General Zhuo killed in action with his forces in full retreat, there seems to be nothing that the resistance movement can do to prevent the Japanese from occupying Shanghai. Chikaraishi challenges Chen to fight him, and kills Kiki after he shows up. In anger, Chen defeats many Japanese combatants all at once, after which he faces Chikaraishi in a one-on-one bout and wins. At the end of the film, Chikaraishi is replaced with another officer while Chen continues to help the resistance movement oppose the invaders.
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