|A MAN CALLED HERO
|Copyright 1999 Golden Harvest
| Reviewed by Baofu
on 1 August 2002 (updated)
- Hero - Ekin Cheng! The title character. During the course of the movie, he grows from a strapping young man to a truly powerful martial artist.
- Sword - Nick Tse! Hero's son. Comes to America with Sheng to look for Hero.
- Sheng - Hero's friend from China who is kind of on the chubby side.
- Jade - Kirsty Yang! Hero's wife. Dies tragically soon after she gives birth to Sword and his twin sister.
- Bigot - Elvis Tsui! Hero's lifelong enemy. Whenever and wherever Hero gets shafted by life, Bigot is there. Kidnapped Hero's newborn daughter and sixteen years later is killed by Hero.
- Shadow - Masked training brother of Hero. Oh yeah, and he also doesn't have any arms. He has adapted to his handicap by using his hair as a whip, blinding speed, and making himself scarce.
- Kate - Shadow's daughter. The alimony must be hell, because when we find Shadow, he's living in a little out-of-the-way opium den.
- Lohan - A monk who traveled to America with Hero and became good friends with him in the Steel Bull Canyon labor camp. Sacrifices himself when they go to free the other laborers.
- Current Boss of China House - Yuen Biao! Community leader in New York's Chinatown.
- Master Pride - Shadow and Hero's teacher. Dies soon after he passes on the China Secret to Hero.
- Invincible - A samurai from Japan who challenges Master Pride to a duel because he wants to learn the China Secret. Experiences the China Secret firsthand sixteen years later in his duel with Hero.
- Jin - Leader of a group of Japanese ninjas who come to America to find Hero. Jilted big time when Mu falls in love with Hero.
- Mu - Shu Qi! Female ninja who falls in love with Hero.
- Earth, Fire, and Water - Ninjas who command respective elemental powers.
- Ming - An old fortune teller who breaks the bad news to Hero that he was born under the Star of Death and is destined to die alone and childless (well, in my book one out of two ain't bad).
|Let me start this off with a little background info. Ma Wing Sheng's first comic was a very popular comic from the 80's called Jong Hwa Ying Xiong, or The Chinese Hero. It's also a little known fact that Chinese Hero was released in the U.S. under the Jademan Comics label as Blood Sword Dynasty. Fast forward about a decade. Hot on the success of the movie version of "The Stormriders," the next logical adaptation of a Ma Wing Sheng comic was The Chinese Hero, released under the English title on (dun-dun-dun-daah!) "A Man Called Hero." You may recognize many of the actors and production staff from Stormriders and Centro did all the digital effects for this movie as well. With that said...
The story begins in 1914, where Hero Hua is a strapping young man who receives the Red Sword (his mother's family heirloom) to celebrate Master Pride considering him for a student. He passes Master Pride's test with flying colors. However, before his joy can set in, he comes back home finding everyone dead. With her dying words, Hero's mother tells him that foreign businessmen had their whole family killed because of an article Hero's father wrote about the evils of opium trading. That night, Hero breaks up the Gwailos' party, and exacts a bloody revenge. Pushed by guilt, Hero enjoys one last fling with Jade before leaving for America.
Fast forward sixteen years. Sheng and Sword, Hero's son, arrive at Ellis Island in search of Hero. Arriving at China House, they meet Lohan, who tells them about Hero's passage to America and his experiences at Steel Bull Canyon, a labor camp. At Jade's grave, Sword learns from Sheng about how he and Jade traveled to America in search of Hero and their tearful reunion. Finally, Shadow tells Sword about Hero's run-in with Jin and Mu, the story behind Sword's birth (as well as the sister he never knew he had), Hero's life-altering fortune told to him by Ming, and about Master Pride's last duel with Invincible, a samurai who fanatically sought out the China Secret. None of them have seen or heard from Hero since.
In the here and now, Shadow, Lohan, and the boss of China House decide to carry out their plans of liberating Steel Bull Canyon. A Chinese opera performance becomes a jailbreak, and amid the mayhem, Hero returns in all his graying-haired glory!
Hero may be back and it looks like Sword can finally spend some quality time with his father, but Hero still pushes him away, secure in his belief that the Star of Death rules over his life. On top of this, Invincible has come to Chinatown, looking for Hero. After thrashing practically everyone at China House, Invincible agrees to a duel after Hero intercedes, revealing where he hid his Fire Unicorn sword all these years! What ensues is a clash between the kung-fu titans in, on, and around Lady Liberty herself!
After the dust has settled, the smoke cleared, and all was said and done, it is time for Sword, Sheng, Shadow, and Kate to return to China, but we get the picture that Hero's gonna stick around...
Just like the last movie, the movie itself is like a manga that you just cannot put down until the very end! I WANT MORE!!!
Oh yeah, and one more thing. In the bootleg DVD of A Man Called Hero that I have, there was a scene involving the KKK storming Chinatown led by Jin. I have not seen this part yet, but I imagine we get to see Sword, Shadow, and Sheng kick a lot more butt than we do in the version I have.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- Hair has very high tensile strength.
- Snow in June is not a good omen.
- Fashionable hairstyles among Asian youth has changed little over the last seventy years.
- Nine times out of ten, people will not change much in sixteen years.
- It is very easy to mistake the Statue of Liberty for the Chinese Goddess of Mercy.
- Statues of Chinese lions are good places to hide swords.
- Opening Credits - Not full CG, but still a very nice montage that holds up in the Mandarin or Cantonese versions of the opening song.
- 7 mins - Quite possibly the most flagrant use of computer effects in this whole movie, and that's saying something!
- 8 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A HANDGUN!
- 12 mins - Gratuitous use of 1930's Ellis Island stock footage!
- 16 mins - RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST BYSTANDERS AND A TABLE LEG!
- 23 mins - I can't get over the sneaking suspicion that this scene was worked in as an excuse to see Ekin Cheng shirtless.
- 28 mins - You can't help but feel for Hero when he's buried up to his chin in the sand.
- 37 mins - Hero's reunion with Jade and Sheng. I honestly got a little misty eyed at this part.
- 50 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A COBBLESTONE WALKWAY!
- 52 mins - Behold, the power of hair!
- 63 mins - Man, that is one jilted ninja!
- 67 mins - Jade dies. Ok, I admit it, I got a little misty eyed here, too.
- 73 mins - The only sword fight you'll ever see where the most-used weapon is rainwater.
- 75 mins - Is it just me, or does Pride look kind of constipated?
- 83 mins - The moment you've all been waiting for, the return of Hero (looks awfully haggard for being gone for only 16 years)! Followed by...
- 83 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST BIGOT!
- 87 mins - I feel for ya, Sword.
- 90 mins - In the original version of A Man Called Hero, this part was where the KKK stormed Chinatown. In the version I believe is widely available, this scene was cut out.
- 91 mins - I love Hero's "Let's get it on!" expression.
- 94 mins - The climactic end battle! SEVERAL RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST THE STATUE OF LIBERTY!
- 97 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A SWORD, FOLLOWED BY MORE RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST THE STATUE OF LIBERTY!
- 98 mins - Admit it, you saw this one coming, but you still thought it was pretty damn cool!
- Shadow: "Don't call me brother until Master accepts you."
- Boss of China House: "Wild horses can't take back a gentleman's words."
- Pride: "Invincible, your swordsmanship is unremarkable."
- Boss of China House: "Invincible, this is Chinatown. Behave!"
- Hero: "Today's battle is not only for the name of Master Pride, it's about the honor of all Chinese people."
- Hero: "Invincible, you despise love, therefore you have lost."
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