Heroes of the East (1978)

Heroes of the East is a fun movie to watch, if nothing else than to see Gordon Liu with hair (although I’m not sure that is his real hair).  Ho To is the son of a rich merchant who practices Kung Fu.  His father has arranged a marriage with the daughter of a Japanese business associate.  His new wife also practices martial arts and soon it’s clash of the cultures!  I wasn’t sure what to think of this movie half way through it started to look like another Japanese bashing film.  I certainly understand the reasons why these movies take place, especially since the Shaw Brothers Studios were occupied by the Japanese during WWII.  But what happened toward the end really surprised me and quickly made me like this film very much, even though there is still an underlining message of we are better than you.  This seems more of a cultural thing compared to how the PRC is having films push political propaganda in recent films.

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The film is a delight to martial arts fans by showing exhibitions of different Chinese Martial Arts vs. different Japanese Martial Arts. The characters treat each other with a margin of respect despite being enemies.  I also liked that they used Japanese actors instead of Chinese actors playing Japanese.  Heroes of the East is enjoyable to watch, it has some comedic moments that you can find in many movies featuring Gordon Liu.  Director and Action Choreographer for the film is legendary Lau Kar-leung so it’s no surprising that the action is so good! I was not able to find out a lot about the Japanese actors in this film.

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Gordon Liu Chia-Hui (Five Shaolin Masters, The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter, True Legend) as Ho To

Mizuno Yuko as Kung Zi

Cheng Kang-Yeh (The New One-Armed Swordsman, Executioners from Shaolin)  as Shou Kwan, Ho To’s best friend

Cheng Miu (The Sword and the Lute, The Magnificent Swordsman, The Fourteen Amazons) as Ho To’s father

Kurata Yasuaki (Sister Street Fighter: Hanging by a Thread, The Prodigal Boxer 2, Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen) as Takeno

Kato Naozo  as Senior master Kato

Harada Riki (Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril, Sister Street Fighter: Hanging by a Thread)  as Japanese Kendo master

Sumi Tetsu as Japanese Karate master

Shirai Manabu as Japanese Nunchaku master

Yana Nobuo as Japanese Spear master

Nakazaki Yasutaka as Japanese Sai master

Omae Hitoshi as Japanese Judo master

Liu Chia-Liang (Drunken Master II, The Twin Swords, One-Armed Swordsman) as Master So, a beggar based off of the folk hero Beggar So.  Liu Chia-Liang is another name used by Lau Kar-leung

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Love HK Film review

HK Cinema review

From Wikipedia, a list of the styles and weapons used in the film.

  • Japanese Katana vs. Chinese Jian (double-edged long sword)
  • Sino-Okinawan Karate vs. Chinese Zui Quan
  • Okinawan Nunchaku & Tonfa vs. Chinese Three sectional staff (melee weapons)
  • Japanese Yari vs. Chinese Qiang (spears)
  • Okinawan Sai (weapon) vs. Chinese Butterfly Sword (short swords)
  • Japanese Judo vs. peanut oil (a comedic duel)
  • Japanese ninja skills Hensojutsu, Shinobi-iri vs. peanut shells (another comedic duel)
  • Japanese Shuriken, Darts vs. Chinese Needles, Sleeve Arrows (throwing weapons)
  • Japanese Kusarigama as compared to Chinese Rope Dart (chained/roped weapons)
  • Japanese Ninjatō vs. Chinese Dao (sword) (single-edged broadsword/saber)
  • Japanese Crab-style vs. Chinese Fujian White Crane

5 thoughts on “Heroes of the East (1978)

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