CALL OF HEROES (2016): Review

What happens when you team up Eddie Peng, SHAOLIN’s Benny Chan and legend Sammo Hung?  A surprisingly disappointing film.While the ingredients appear to be there, what follows is two hours of cartoonish spoon-fed drama peppered with overly wired CG fight scenes.

CALL OF HEROES (2016)

starring: Sean Lau, Louis Koo, Eddie Peng, Yuan Quan, Jiang Shuying, special appearance by Wu Jing

directed by: Benny Chan

action choreography:  Sammo Hung

Evil super villain Cho Siu-lun (Louis Koo) travels incognito to a neighboring village and begins committing heinous crimes for no apparent reason.  He is soon arrested by the local police chief Yeung Hak-nan (Sean Lau), only to find out he is the son of a neighboring warlord bent on taking over the region.  Seeing that his arrest could be taken as an excuse to invade the village, the town goes up in arms over whether to uphold their conviction and face the wrath of the invading army or let him go in the hopes of a reprieve.

While the plot itself seems to be an interesting setup, the execution is ham-fisted and long-winded.  The motivations are presented more obviously and 2-dimentionally than a children’s cartoon.  Our hero needs to save the school children because they are so sweet and innocent.  The evil villain loves killing, so we should NOT sympathize with him.

The characters are all flat as a pancake.  I have enjoyed Eddie Peng in other features, but his generic “Man with No Name” character lacked the depth of the prototypical nomad to be interesting.  Sean Lau probably has the strongest performance, but even then there isn’t much to him other than he’s the just cop who is honorable.  I believe the writing is more of the culprit than the individual performances, as the dialog is just too obvious and flat to make sure no one in the audience is in doubt where their allegiances should lie.  The worst offender was Louis Koo’s Cho — he’s a caricature antagonist on par with a Saturday morning Hasbro villain like Skeletor or Cobra Commander.  He loves being evil just for the sake of being evil.  Needless to say, I was drawn to none of the characters.

At least with legend Sammo Hung at the helm of action, I did expect the action to be top notch, but again I was left very disappointed.  While some of the acrobatics were technically impressive, the majority of the fights are heavily wired, with no feeling of weight or gravity.  I don’t know if this wuxia-style wire-fu is popular in the East but I almost always find it disappointing.  Wu Jing has a minor roll which I was hoping would inject some excitement, but was for the most part too fantastical and video-game-like to be thrilling.  The lone exception was surprisingly Sammo Hung’s son Sammy Hung Tin-Chiu.  Though his character was a small bit part, his fights were my favorite by far, showcasing some brutal and fun tonfa fighting.

Should I Watch it?

Weightless and silly fight scenes surrounded by cartoon villains and unremarkable heroes make this a movie you don’t have to feel guilty skipping.

Movie Rating: 1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5) Kung Fu Rating: 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Posted on February 15, 2017 in Kung Fu Movie Reviews

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About the Author

Aaron Andersen is the creative director of Legendary Weapons of LA. He's a designer, animator and avid fan of kung fu cinema.

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