Heroes Of Shaolin (HK 1979)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 10/28/00
Alternate Title: Hero Of The Wild
Director: William Chang
Action Director: Corey Yuen Kwei, Yuen Biao
Cast: Chan Sing, Lo Lieh, Lung Jun Er, Hwang Jang Lee (?), Yuen Biao, Corey Yuen Kwei

"Heroes Of Shaolin" indeed. This must have come out at the time when attaching the word "Shaolin" onto everything was popular. Having said that, this film has nothing to do with buddhist monks or Shaolin Temple in any way. The film opens with a duel between Too Ta Shen (Chan Sing) and the man who beat him several years before. Too wins the match and kills the old man right before his young son's eyes, and the boy swears revenge. Then, in an interesting twist, Too Ta Shen takes the boy and teaches him kung fu so that he can one day take his revenge and kill him. Throughout the film, a unique bond forms between the two men. They secretly care for each other like father and son, but outwardly they treat each other as sworn enemies. Too Ta Shen eventually gets hired to kill a powerful fighter (Hwang Jang Lee) which sets up a series of escalating kung fu brawls. The film finally ends with the young boy taking his revenge on the tired and beaten Too Ta Shen - in a way.

A good solid kung fu actioner that's smarter and more interesting than most. The two main actors are very good. Chan Sing delivers his performance with strength, arrogance, compassion, and even humility. Even though he's a tough and mean bastard, he has a strong sense of honor and justice. He truly does care for the boy, and even has a very touching relationship with a woman that he saved from a life of prostitution. You rarely see this kind of emotional depth in kung fu actors. The kung fu itself is excellently realized by the cast and by Corey Yuen's and Yuen Biao's direction. The beautiful Lung Jun Er even pulled off some great fight scenes thanks to them, and this is the strongest and fiercest role I've seen her in to date. She rocks! Corey Yuen and Yuen Biao also get to fight briefly, and they're great as well. Good fun!