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方世玉與洪熙官 (1974)
Heroes Two

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 05/20/2006
Summary: Old School goodness

Heroes Two does not feel like a normal Chang Cheh film from this period as it focuses more on action than the typical theme of brotherhood and chivalry. The pace is a lot quicker than you’d normally see in a Chang Cheh film as well, and it does come as a refreshing change of pace from films made in this era. Perhaps it was the influence Lau Kar-Leung, who would of course go on to direct so many films in this vein that deserves the credit for this.

The plot is quite standard for its type made in the mid to late 70’s, but was quite novel at the time. This is the earliest film I’ve seen with the famous (and historically correct) burning of the Shaolin Temple. Later, this backdrop would be used on many films on this theme, but none of them looked quite as good as here. As usual, the high production values of the studio help to make the whole thing look as convincing as possible.

It’s worth noting that Fu Sheng’s character here is Fong Sai-Yuk – the OTHER great Chinese folk hero (made more popular in recent years with the portrayal by Jet Li in the short-lived “Legend of Fong Sai-Yuk” series of films). Like the tales of Wong Fei-Hung, his accounts are purely fictionalised, but it’s nice to see the character played by Fu Sheng – who would later go on to portray him in other films.

You’ve got a case of mistaken identity with the leads, with the one pitted against the other. Fong Sai-Yuk, filled with remorse, builds an underground tunnel virtually alone to free Hung Hsi-Kuan (Chen Kuan-Tai) when he discovers he’s been duped. This scene, although perhaps overlong, is quite novel and inventive, and is a good indicator of how wracked with remorse he is!

However, the final section suffers from the use of a bit of camera gimmickry that spoils the mood of the film a little. It appears that for the death scenes Chang Cheh placed a red filter over the camera, which makes the entire screen red for the shot. This probably seemed like a good idea at the time, and let’s not forget that this was made in 1973, but it doesn’t really work. Fortunately, it seems he ditched this idea shortly afterwards.

Not bad, and certainly worth watching.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: mpongpun
Date: 03/02/2003

149This flick was very successful and was one of the first flicks depicting Shaolin and hand to hand fighting instead of using sword. Shaolin is burnt to the ground by those evil Manchus, thus causing all of its inhabitants to disperse into the countryside. One of these Shaolin warriors is Hung Hsi Kuan (Chen Kuan Tai). Hung has eluded capture from the Manchus, but with help of a naïve Fang Shih Yu (Fu Sheng), the Manchus are able to catch Hung. Shih Yu later finds out that he has committed a big blunder by helping out the Manchus, so he decides to make everything whole again by saving Hung all by himself. Of course, Shih Yu fails, but that is just a set back. Shih Yu then decides to dig (all by himself!) an underground tunnel leading to the room that Hung is detained in. Yeah right! Predictably, Hung escapes and then later re-ups with his Shaolin brethren to later challenge the Manchus in a battle royale, fight till you drop dead finale.

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 02/24/2003
Summary: Groundbreaking, apparently

The Celestial Pictures remastered releases of old Shaw Brothers movies are one of the best things to happen to HK movies in a long time, and particularly welcome now that the former colony seems to have almost completely stopped making new movies of note. I've never really been an old school fan, largely because I just could not appreciate the movies properly on the horrible cropped and dubbed VHS-sourced releases that were the only way to see most Shaws movies until now. It's great to be able to see them as they were meant to be seen, and the quality of these remastered discs often surpasses that of many much newer films released in HK.

HEROES TWO is a movie by the legendary director Chang Che, the man most strongly associated with Shaw Brothers and Kung Fu Cinema in the Western world. I have to admit that I'm not tremendously impressed by his films overall though - certainly compared to those of King Hu or Chor Yuen. HEROES TWO is apparently one of his best though, and it is indeed pretty good.

Like WARRIORS TWO, the suffix does not indicate that the movie is a sequel, but rather that it is about two heroes ("TWO HEROES" doesn't have the same ring, you must admit). These heroes are both graduates of Shaolin Temple, played by Chen Kuan Tai and Alexander Fu Sheng.

The movie begins with the burning of Shaolin by the Manchus, from which Chen Kuan Tai barely escapes after fighting off hundreds of soldiers. Fu Sheng heres of the burning and wishes to seek revenge on the Manchus... however he appears utterly incapable of recognising them when he meets them. To make matters worse, a bunch of Manchus manage to convince him that Chen Kuan Tai is actually a thief and murderer, so he goes off on a self-righteous mission to aprehend him. TWO HEROES... brothers but now unwitting enemies.

This was apparently one of the first movies to focus on Shaolin Temple... though it's hard to imagine a time when movies about Shaolin weren't coming out of Hong Kong every other week. One wonders how much influence action director Lau Kar Leung had on the decision to tell a Shaolin story, as he has shown a particular fondness for the temple in his own movies.

Lau Kar Leung's influence is clearly felt in the fight scenes, which many regard as the primary reason the movie was so successful and groundbreaking, because it forgoes swordplay for more hand to hand combat. That's what they say, anyway, though I'd have thought Bruce Lee already started that trend several years earlier. There's lots and lots of fighting in the movie, and there is some nice intricate choreography that moves at a fairly furious pace. The fights do look a little bit dated though, but are already a long way ahead of stuff like HEROIC ONES. One is particularly impressed by Chen Kuan Tai, who fights fiercely and skillfully.

Chen Kuan Tai was definitely one of Shaw Brothers best actors, to my mind - he had a great look and plenty of kung fu skill. I was much less impressed with Alexander Fu Sheng though - his nose is too big, and he seemed a bit too young and clueless to be playing a hero. Naivety was a significant part of his character though, so maybe that was just good acting. I found him a little bit annoying though.

HEROES TWO is a pretty good Kung Fu movie, and fans of Chang Che should be thrilled at the high quality of the Celestial release. I think its appeal is rather more limited than the sumptuous wu xia films of Chor Yuen though. It doesn't have their depth or their production values, though it does have more action and more bloodshed.

Recommended for people that like men to be real men (and/or shirtless) and anybody that likes Chang Che. Interesting but not essential for the rest.

Reviewer Score: 6