REVIEW: Call of Heroes (2016)

callofheroes

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2016, Universe Entertainment/Bona Film Group Co.Ltd./Sun Entertainment Culture/Iqiyi Motion Pictures/Yinming Culture Communications Co. Ltd./Long Motion Pictures Ltd./Alpha Pictures (Beijing) Co. Ltd./CL Motion Pictures Ltd./Beijing Monster Pictures Co. Ltd./Zhejiang Viewguide Film Co. Ltd.

Director:
Benny Chan
Producers:
Benny Chan
Alvin Lam
Writers:
Benny Chan
Doug Wong
Tam Wai-Chin
Tim Tong
Chien I-Chueh
Cinematography:
Pakie Chan
Editing:
Yau Chi-Wai

Cast:
Sean Lau (Yang Kenan)
Louis Koo (Cao Shaolun)
Eddie Peng (Ma Feng)
Yuan Quan (Zhou Suzu)
Wu Jing (Zhang Yi)
Philip Keung (Li Tie-Niu)
Sammy Hung (Zhang Wu)
Berg Ng (Shen Ding)
Shi Yanneng (Wang Weihu)

An ensemble cast leads the charge in this exciting period action piece from the director of New Police Story and the legendary action maestro Sammo Hung.

The evil warlord Cao Ying has taken over Stone City, forcing refugees to migrate to the small village of Pucheng. With the governor away, sheriff Yang Kenan is in charge of making sure the town is in order. With a mysterious man arrives, he is revealed to be Cao Ying’s spoiled son Shaolun. When Shaolun viciously shoots down the local inn owner, his teacher cousin Bai Ling, and a young boy, Yang catches Shaolun and vows to have him executed the next day.

Zhang Yi, the right hand man of Cao Ying, arrives and demands the release of Cao Shaolun. He gives Yang one day to release Cao or Pucheng will be the next area to fall under Cao’s army. Ma Feng, a hermit who has arrived in Pucheng, is the former classmate of Zhang Yi, who still feels betrayed by the previous actions of Ma. When Ma fails to convince Yi to leave the town alone, a war is imminent between Yang, Ma, and the rest of the town’s guardians against the commanders of Cao’s army with Pucheng being the prize. What will happen should Cao Shaolun makes his way out during this turbulent time?

For a while, Benny Chan, a renowned action film director who helped the millennial resurgence of Jackie Chan in New Police Story and helped elevate Nicholas Tse as an action star in his own right with this film as well as Gen-X Cops and Invisible Target, has wanted to work with Sammo Hung. That chance has finally happened with this film and this is truly an epic that shows the collaborative chemistry between director and action director.

The ensemble cast truly drives the film with veterans Sean Lau and Louis Koo leading the charge. Lau plays the law and order of the village of Pucheng, which finds himself under threat by the likes of Koo and crew. Lau, who may not seem like he can play this type of character, once again proves to the audience that he can tackle any type of role and playing a martial hero is quite a task that proves successful. As for Louis Koo, he plays Cao Shaolun as a spoiled brat who has a taste for one thing and that’s violence. When he’s not using his gun to kill his adversaries, he plays mind games to an effect where he brings a sinister laugh as if he could be a period Chinese version of Batman’s legendary nemesis The Joker. Koo once again shines as a villain after his previous mastermind role in Killzone 2 (aka SPL 2: A Time for Consequences) and this is truly his most sinister villain role to date.

The “wild card” of the ensemble comes in the form of Eddie Peng, who recently played Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-Hung in Rise of the Legend. Peng is truly meant to be an action star and who better to take him in as a godson than this film’s action director Sammo Hung. Peng’s hard work in the action department is simply enjoyable to watch and as for his acting, he brings a bit of the film’s comic relief in the form of the reclusive Ma Feng, whose past is revealed in a flashback. Peng brings that unlikely hero to good effect while his nemesis comes in the form of Wu Jing, who plays Ma’s former classmate turned villain commander. Wu has truly been making a name for himself as of late despite rumors of a potential retirement due to leg injuries, but under Sammo Hung, Wu proves he can bring a deadly villain to the film and successfully does it in the role of Zhang Yi.

Not only does the core ensemble cast get to showcase some action skills and their acting skills to good effect, but there are some surprises in a few of the supporting cast. In a memorable extended cameo, Shi Yanneng (formerly Xing Yu) has a brief fistacuffs with Lau as a bodyguard hired by a very annoying rich man who thinks he is the man of the town. As Yang’s wife, Yuan Quan brings a nice surprise showcasing her fighting skills on screen as does Sammo’s son Sammy, who plays Yang’s underling Zhang Wu, who does wonder when using his weapon of choice, the tonfa. Sammy truly has that action blood running in his veins and does quite well in his fight scenes. Philip Keung and Berg Ng also bring some ample support on Koo and Wu’s side as two other members of Cao’s army who shine in a scene in which they attempt to bust Shaolun out of prison.

In conclusion, Call of Heroes is an exciting period epic driven by the core ensemble and some surprising supporting character actors along with Sammo Hung’s frenetic at times-wire enhanced action choreography. Definitely for martial arts fans to check out.

WFG RATING: A

The DVD and Blu-Ray of this film will be released on December 6, 2016. Special features include a making of the film, which is comprised of vignettes including building the village of Pucheng from scratch, the cast talking about their characters, and Sammo Hung’s action choreography; and trailers for this film, Operation Mekong, Cold War II, and Three.

To pre-order this film on Amazon, click on the link below:

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