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ís (1997)

Reviewed by: Libretio
Date: 10/17/2005
Summary: Impressive Shaw Bros. action-drama

HERO (1997)

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Sound format: Mono

Corey Yuen's period adventure HERO marked an impressive return to the action movie fold by Shaw Brothers, following a long period in which the studio had concentrated almost exclusively on TV production. A remake of the Chang Cheh classic BOXER FROM SHANTUNG (1972), HERO follows the adventures of a courageous country boy (Takeshi Kaneshiro) who flees rural poverty and relocates to Shanghai circa 1911, where his impressive fighting skills bring him to the attention of a benevolent gangster (Yuen Biao) who agrees to mentor him. Thus emboldened, Kaneshiro rises through the ranks of the criminal underworld, until he's challenged by a powerful rival (Yuen Tak) who plots against him. Tragedy ensues.

The concept is old-fashioned, but director Yuen energizes proceedings with New Wave fervor, employing thousands of extras in a bid to recreate the majesty of old Shanghai, whilst filming the combat sequences in a defiantly modern manner, pitting hordes of axe-wielding assailants against lone protagonists who are forced to use acrobatic manoeuvres and everyday objects to fend off a potentially horrific death. Yuen's script (co-written with Kay On) is eventful and melodramatic, and the sweeping visuals (by cinematographer Tom Lau) are further highlighted by a sumptuous music score, co-written by William Hu, Raymond Wong and Lincoln Lo. But while the film delivers on action and spectacle, it fails to establish the characters as anything more than stock figures, which essentially limits the narrative's dramatic impact. For all that, however, the performances are uniformly excellent, and HERO's all-star cast is divided squarely into the beautiful (Kaneshiro, Valerie Chow, Jessica Hester), the bold (Yuen Biao at his most virtuous), and the beastly (Yuen Tak as the villain, lacking only a top hat, cloak and twirly moustache).

NB. Shot in mainland China, the film was consequently subject to strict Chinese censorship laws which curtailed some of the gorier violence (a Shaw Brothers trademark). These scenes weren't restored for the HK theatrical/video release, though a more complete version turned up later on DVD in the UK.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: mpongpun
Date: 04/28/2002


Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 04/16/2002
Summary: Not bad

It's pretty good overall, but Yuen Biao doesn't suit the character he was given. The end fight is very well down, having Corey Yuen & Yuen Biao involved in the film it's no surprise how most of the action scenes turn out.

Rating: 3/5

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 05/05/2001
Summary: Pretty good

Not a bad movie which does entertain. The action scene at the ending is GREAT!! BUT i can never find Yuen Biao as a BIG BOSS as convincing. I think because he looks too young and his past movies has made me think this!! But still worth watching.......


Reviewed by: hellboy
Date: 09/13/2000

Not as good as most of Yuen Kwai's films but it does deliver good action scenes. Yuen Biao is likeable as a hardened crime boss. I wish Yuen Kwai had given more for Yuen Wah to do, in Hero he plays little more than a buffoon to Takeshi's straight man. 7.5/10

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: grimes
Date: 04/09/2000

Takeshi plays a poor boy who makes it big in the crime world in early 20th century Hong Kong. He is groomed by Yuen Biao, who he of course betrays as his ego inflates. The ultimate enemy is the really nasty Yuen Tak.

This is a pretty good film with some great action scenes (and one very disturbing but fortunately short rape scene). The middle bogs down a little and overall the plot is terribly predictable. On the other hand, it has Takeshi Kaneshiro, which is always a good thing. Valerie Chow is in it too. Neither one does anything too amazing with their roles but they are both fun to watch.

Suen Huen has some great moments as an innocent club singer (as opposed to a jaded, world-weary club singer), providing some great comic relief and some of the film's best genuine emotional moments.

Definitely worth checking out if you're a Takeshi or action fan (or both). It has a high entertainment value though it breaks no new ground.

Reviewed by: hktopten
Date: 12/21/1999

In the beginning, it looked like what Shanghai Grand should have been. The late middle started to get boring. As my attention span drifted for a bit, all of a sudden the film came to an explosive end. It's always good to see Yuen Biao, Yuen Wa, Yuen Tak, and Corey Yuen Kwai, even though Yuen Wa and Corey Yuen Kwai only provided comic relief. Several inventive action sequences that are more than what recent Jackie Chan film (except First Strike) provided. Takeshi Kaneshiro (Gum Sing Mo) looked somewhat convincing at his action role, and both Valerie Chow Ka Ling and Hsuan Jessica Hester handed in likable "flower vase" performances. A tolerable action film.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Around the end of the Qin dynasty, Ma Wing Jing and others followthe crowd, escape south to Shanghai, and become laborers by the pier. Ma Wing Jing by chance saves a powerful man Tam Sei and is admired by him, as Tam Sei gives a music club to Ma who then is on the road to success. Tam Sei's nemesis Yeung Seung bribes the police and Tam Sei and Ma Wing Jing are seriously injured during an ambush. Yeung Seung thinks they are both dead, but......

[Reviewed by Next Magazine]