M (2016)
Call of Heroes


Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 03/16/2018

Lau Ching-Wan is one of the most talented actors in the world and has been for years. He brings all that talent and experience to his role as Sheriff Yang in “Call of Heroes” where he is paired with and contrasted to those played by Louis Koo and Eddie Peng. Koo plays Young Commander Cao, a quintessential bad man with lots of over the top charisma--he really enjoys being evil--while Peng is Ma Feng a quiet, almost somnolent guy who only springs into action when a bandit disturbs his nap.

Cao comes into town and murders three completely innocent people. When Yang locks him up and Cao is sentenced to be executed the next morning he tells the assembled citizens of Pucheng that he is the son of General Cao the most feared warlord in the area. General Cao’s army will be arriving to free him and to slaughter the entire town if he is either executed or still in jail. The townspeople panic and plead with Yang to free Cao in order to spare the village; Yang, who knows about warlords knows that they are doomed already unless they fight back but couches his refusal to release the murderer in speeches about honor and duty while telling them that any of them can free Cao. Cao tells them that he will only leave the cell when the man who locked him up opens the door.

Into this atmosphere of panic and fear rides a lone silent horseman, wearing black and with a broad-brimmed hat shading his face. The townspeople stare at him, wondering who he can be and if is somehow sent to save them. He then falls off his horse. Turns out that Ma Feng is really a wanderer. He simply goes where is horse takes him, sleeping on the way. We have already seen his martial arts prowess when he was disturbed by bandits at a restaurant while sleeping off a heavy meal. More out of pique than anger he casually beats all of them while lecturing on the dangers of awakening someone from what he calls a food coma.

So the scene is set for a bloodbath, wuxia style. There are a lot of typical tropes and themes--the craven villagers led by the local magistrate; the stout band of guardians recruited and trained by Sheriff Yang and who stand by him; the pretty teacher who begs Ma Feng to take her band of rescued students to safety in the capital.It would all come to naught, though, if the guardians, when sent away by Yang, hadn’t stumbled across the unguarded ammunition depot of General Cao’s army. In addition to stacked arms and ammunition the army had brought enough dynamite to excavate the Suez Canal, used by the guardians to blow up the entire camp.

One reason to watch “Call of Heroes” to the end--or to fast forward to it--is to see how the atrocious Young Commander Cao meets his end. Louis Koo keeps him ignoble and disgusting to the very end. Excellent movie of its kind, well worth seeing for wuxia fans.

Reviewer Score: 9