Hero (HK 1997)

Rating: ***
Director: Corey Yuen Kwai
Cast: Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Valerie Chow, Yuen Tak

This big budget kung fu gangster piece takes place in Shanghai circa 1920, and is the first film from Shaw Brothers Studios in over fifteen years! Shanghai is ruled by two crime bosses: benevolent Yuen Biao and maniacal Yuen Tak. The main character (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and his brother (Yuen Wah) are poor refugees who have come to Shanghai to flee the Japanese and find a better life. Not surprisingly, they don't. As these films go, it gets really depressing and everyone dies in the end. Well, nearly everyone - the hero actually survives and leaves with the girl (the 90's have softened the genre quite a bit, eh?). Beautifully filmed with exciting and well staged action pieces, but somehow something seems missing...