Cast: Louis Koo, Ching Wan Lau, and Eddie Peng
Director: Benny Chan
119 minutes (15) 2016
Widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Asia blu-ray region
Review by Christopher Geary
action movies are rarely better than this superhero adventure. It’s
distinguished but never hampered by its period setting. In 1914, the laughing
psycho son of tyrant Cao kills a man, a woman, and an innocent child in
cold-blooded shootings. The Sheriff of Pucheng arrests the suicidal villain,
but any determination of justice from a trial is undermined when the
remorseless killer demands his own execution because he knows that his death will
provoke his warlord father into a vengeful slaughter of the whole city.
“Brute force beats reason every time.”
In spite of its clever variation of caged fighting, plenty of exemplary wire-work, and some well orchestrated kung fu battles, Benny Chan’s Call Of Heroes is essentially a vividly composed western styled actioner with iconic loners and stoic individuals roused to enact restrained violence against an implacably evil foe. There is nothing particularly original about this picture’s fusion of western and eastern. These cultural tropes and film themes have been borrowed and copied for remakes several times over, such as when The Seven Samurai (1954) became The Magnificent Seven (1960), or when the east and west were mixed together in European production Red Sun (1971), and other more recent cowboy swordsman flicks.
The martial arts heroes’ defence of a besieged and ultimately occupied valley turns into the grand melee of open warfare, with dynamite explosions in the army camp’s armoury, as returned fire for the massacres by invading enemy troops. Marvellously inventive in its solid characters that avoid stereotypes, plot twists that might be genuinely shocking, and vigorous action sequences that never simply resort to clichés, this is a superb epic movie offering at least a few images we have never seen before. The greatest stuff includes an avalanche of pottery, and views of the business end of a bullwhip that would surely be a nightmare of audience flinching if seen in 3D.