Heroes of the East (1979)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Martial Arts  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - Hong Kong   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Heroes Of The East is considered by some fans to be the best martial arts film ever made -- and it deserves all the praise it gets. It is an interesting piece of work because it is the rare martial arts film that is actually about martial arts. The script is a surprisingly philosophical affair, using its story of the uneasy marriage between a Chinese man and a Japanese woman, both skilled in the martial arts of their respective homelands, as a way to compare and contrast Japanese and Chinese martial arts in a thoughtful and incisive style. However, Heroes Of The East is not a dull philosophical treatise: it's a lively story full of humor and drama where the interpersonal fireworks engage the viewer with as much skill as the fight sequences. Gordon Liu is excellent as the headstrong but quick-thinking hero and the lovely Yuko Mizuno is able to match him step for step in both charisma and physical skills. Director Lau Kar Leung choreographs this complex bill of fare with the ideal mix of energy and precision: he keeps the drama in focus while displaying dazzling craftsmanship in his orchestration of the film's many action setpieces (a great highlight is a battle of martial skills between the husband and wife in the dining room, using utensils, dishes and furniture as their weapons). Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the film is the fact that despite its high level of action, no blood is spilled and no one dies. This is very important to point out because it is a reflection of the film's uniquely thoughtful and heartfelt nature. To sum up, Heroes Of The East is one of the all-time great martial arts films and any student of the genre should see it.