Heroes Of The East (Weinstein/Dragon Dynasty, 1979) D: Lau Kar-Leung, w/ Gordon Liu, Yuko Mizuno. Rating: NNNN; DVD package: NNNN
The high rating here is for genre fans who like their kung fu old-school and want to learn more about what they’re watching.
Hong Kong movie expert Bey Logan has a lot to say about director Lau Kar-Leung and star Gordon Liu. Lau is one of the few Hong Kong directors to actually practise kung fu, and Liu was his student before becoming his star. Together, they made The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin, widely regarded as the best traditional kung fu movie.
Logan’s commentary and his knowledgeable doc on the fight scenes provide the context for both the movie and a highly unusual extra: actress Kea Wong (who has nothing to do with Heroes but played Jubilee in X-Men 2 and 3) gets some instruction in traditional Chinese weapons from contemporary kung fu players, a bit of reality that helps ground the fiction.
In Heroes, a Chinese man (Liu) marries a Japanese woman (Yuko Mizuno) who thinks Japanese martial arts are better. Domestic warfare ensues, until she goes home in a huff and Japanese martial masters arrive to avenge their country’s honour.
Lau achieves drama, comedy and clear displays of technique in his duels, showing off his own talents in a brief turn as drunken boxing master Beggar So.
EXTRAS Logan commentary and interview, Liu interview, weapons lessons. Widescreen. Mandarin, Cantonese, English audio. English, Spanish subtitles.