In the 1990’s one distribution company released some of the greatest old school kung ku movies ever made: Eastern Heroes. As a young kid in my mid teens growing up in the UK they opened up a world that I will be eternally grateful for.
One of the first ones I watched at that time was The Dragon, The Hero. So I immediately fell in love with the movie, and rewatching it for this review was a delight. So especially since it was a widescreen decent quality print in Mandarin. Released by Vengeance video the company created by Toby Russell. He formed Eastern Heroes with another great figure in kung fu movie history, Ricky Baker. Their knowledge of the genre knows no bounds.
Apparently The Dragon, The Hero (Tap Gia Cao Thu) was a huge hit in the cinemas on 42nd Street in New York in the 70’s. And it’s easy to see why. An insane combination of classic kung fu movie tropes and psychedelic weirdness, it really is a unique picture. This is despite the fact that it is directe by who Eastern Heroes called ‘the boss of dross’ Godfrey Ho. A man that needs no introduction, he has arguably made some of the worst films in history. For my money The Dragon, The Hero is his best film alongside Ninja Terminator. The star of the film is that wonderful super kicker John Liu, one of my favourite Martial Arts movie stars.
At this point he had appeared in some of the classics of the time such as Secret Rivals 1, Secret Rivals 2 and Invincible Armour, and had established himself. His costar is Tino Wong, who was also in Invincible Armour (his best role IMO). Appearing in a small role one of the best Bruce Lee imitators Dragon Lee who hams it up to the maximum. The villain is that matchless genius Phillip Ko, who really gets to break loose in terms of his villainy and varying styles of kung fu. His partner in crime Chan Lau puts in a performance that has to be see to be believe.
So predictably the plot of the film (phim vo thuat xua) is perfunctory and uninvolving, and the plot twists are obvious. And as usual the Western actors are terrible and add nothing to the film. A sub plot featuring that great bit part actor the rotund Chiang Kam is very silly. And adds next to nothing. These are minor quibbles however, in what for my money is one of the most entertaining old school movies.