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Last Hurrah for Chivalry More at IMDbPro »Hao xia (original title)

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

It's swordplay not gunplay in this early John Woo film

Author: Brian Camp from Bronx, NY
30 April 2001

LAST HURRAH FOR CHIVALRY is an early film (1978) by John Woo, who is better known for his Hong Kong crime thrillers (THE KILLER, HARD-BOILED) and Hollywood hits (FACE/OFF, MI2). It's a costume swordplay film from Golden Harvest and it looks very different from similar films then being done at the rival Shaw Bros. studio. Even then, Woo was displaying a directorial talent that set him apart from the Shaw Bros. directors (as good as some of them were). The photography and editing here display a cinematic gloss comparable to the Japanese samurai films of the time. However, the martial arts are not as pure as in the Shaw Bros. films and the 2 lead fighters are generally not as skilled as the top-ranked members of the Shaw repertory company (e.g. Gordon Liu, Fu Sheng, the 5 Venoms).

Even so, the fight scenes are consistently exciting and are sprinkled throughout a well-developed storyline with a set of intriguing characters. It's all about the budding friendship between fighters Cheng San (Wei Pai, a sometime Shaw star) and Green Suit (Damian Lau) and the path to their impending battle with villain Pai Kang (Lee Hoi San), and their ultimate betrayal by the mutual friend who had manipulated them into battle. It looks forward to Woo's A BETTER TOMORROW and BULLET IN THE HEAD each of which featured a trio of male buddies, one of whom betrays the other two for personal gain. Fans of Woo's later work (and fans of swordplay movies) will find this film a rewarding experience.

ADDENDUM (7/23/14): I watched this again, on the Dragon Dynasty DVD edition, for the first time in many years and was newly impressed with the fight choreography. It was much more sophisticated than I gave it credit for above and I'm sorry I was mildly dismissive of the lead actors' capabilities. This film also compares quite favorably with the Shaw Bros. swordplay adventures of the 1970s, of which I've seen many more since doing the original review. I was also remiss in not singling out the great kung fu villains in this piece, particularly those played by Fung Hak On and Lee Hoi San. Their work is breathtaking. And I should also highlight the film's original music score, distinguished by a theme melody taken from its title song and deployed effectively in different variations throughout the film. This is in contrast to the standard practice of so many kung fu films from that era in using library cues and bits taken from other soundtracks. And I stand by my remark about the "cinematic gloss" that sets this film apart. Woo's confidence as a filmmaker is quite noticeable here and brings an aesthetic element to the material that wasn't common in the genre at the time.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Classic Golden Harvest Production

Author: fongsaiyuk from United Kingdom
18 May 2006

This is one of my favourite martial arts movies from Hong Kong. It is one of John Woo's earliest films and one of only a few traditional martial arts movies he directed. You can see his influences from working under Chang Cheh in this film. The action is good, the fight choreography is conducted by Fong Hak On who appears as one of the bad guys in the movie. It stars Wei Pei of "Five Venoms" fame and a whole host of faces familiar to fans of Golden Harvest and Shaw Brothers productions. The story line is interesting, there are a few decent plot twists and the build up of the characters and their relationships with each other is cleverly done. This film has only had a VHS release in the UK. Media Asia have released a region 3 DVD and there are versions of it on DVD available from the USA. The film is lovely to watch in either it's original language or in it's English dubbed version. I highly recommend this movie.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:


Author: realredundant from United Kingdom
20 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The sword fighting was out of this world, the fights scenes spectacular without the flying on a wire techniques (until the end) that are way too common today. The scene with Chan and Pray was probably the highlight of the movie. The characters in the assault on the bad guys mansion were cliché but the movie is comfortable with it. An injection of humour from Woo.

The plot with it's twists and turns was unpredictable and exciting and you couldn't tell who was good or bad or which side people were on.

A good sense of suspense and well timed surprises. The depth of the story is quite intense for a flighty film of this genre and reaches you in ways most kung-fu flicks don't.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Love, with lumps...

Author: poe426 from USA
12 August 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

From the opening wedding scene- during which it's revealed that the bride-to-be is a bit of a "loosey goosey"- it's clear that John Woo's LAST HURRAH FOR CHIVALRY isn't going to be your typical kung fu movie. (The infusion of humor had, by this time, become de rigeur for many martial arts movies. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but I prefer the more dramatic movies, myself; even the unintentionally hilarious overly melodramatic ones.) When Chang's sister's paramour hesitates tying the knot, Chang takes it upon himself to beat a confession out of the guy. The reluctant Romeo tells him: "Her brother (meaning Chang) has a violent temper!" Throughout the movie, Woo swipes Akira Kurosawa's WIPES when transitioning between scenes; it's a nice little touch that most people probably don't pick up on, but an indication that Woo had an interest in EXPANDING his own repertoire. There is some spectacular swordplay, and the constantly circling camera lends a 3D feel to the action. "Dreams lead you nowhere," says Green at one point: "I don't like to dream." Says Lau Gong: "The making of a hero costs a lot of innocent lives." The Sleeping Wizard is fun, but the deus ex machina of the Sword of Flying Invisibility comes totally out of left field.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Where ya id at?

Author: eatmyfuc
17 August 2012

When you get sick of academics pinning everything that doesn't neatly fit into some neutered utopian post-gender egalitarian view of the world with some new -ism, there's always old John Woo. Even this early martial arts attempt of his is full of broad, simple themes of brotherhood, honor, betrayal, etc. that are morally unambiguous & sentimental and therefore unpopular with the "intellectuals", but ultimately that can be the most honest storytelling language.

The film suffers a bit from the usual over-mythologizing and exaggeration that can make wuxias come off as a bit hokey (this is a fairly early example of perhaps-too-powerful heroes trading one-liners as they effortlessly plow through goons), but Woo's typically broad-yet-convincing characterizing makes up for it. A solid film that more than hints at the "heroic bloodshed" thing that would later continue the spirit of this stuff.

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3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

I agree with Scott Clements

Author: crabarr from Canada
7 August 2005

Scott is right. The best 2 person sword duel ever put on film is in the middle of this movie. The sword fights with multiple fighters are not the best although quite good. However, the fight in the middle is the best even compared to Japanese samurai movies. Chinese swordplay scenes in my opinion have never surpassed the Japanese in terms of entertainment value. Especially in scenes where one guy must battle a group of enemies, Japanese movies excel, example being the Lone Wolf and Cub series. Even though duels in Japanese cinema last only seconds or a minute at the most, the sheer intensity of those moments made them better. But, this is one example where Chinese swordplay surpasses the Japanese. The scene in the middle of this film was a five minute long fight with the most amazing choreography ever. The other fights in this movie are good too but even if they sucked this movie would get a 7 for that one scene. If you haven't seen it, you have to. John Woo is the man.

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3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Very entertaining martial arts actioner

Author: sarastro7
7 January 2005

I am a kung fu fan, but not a Woo fan. I have no interest in gangster movies filled with over-the-top gun-play. Now, martial arts; *that's* beautiful! And John Woo surprised me here by producing a highly entertaining kung fu movie, which almost has *too much* fighting, if such a thing is possible! This is good stuff.

Many of the fight scenes are very good (and some of them are less good), and the main characters are amusing and likable. The bad guys are a bit too unbelievably evil, but entertaining none the less. You gotta see the Sleeping Wizard!! He can only fight when he's asleep - it's hysterical!

Upon repeated viewings, however, Last Hurrah For Chivalry can tend to get a little boring and long-winded, also especially because many of the fight scenes are actually not that good. Hence, I rate it "only" a 7 out of 10. But it really is almost an "8".

All in all one of the better kung fu movies, made smack-dab in the heart of kung fu cinema's prime. All the really good kung fu movies are from the mid- to late 1970ies, with some notable exceptions from the late '60ies and early '70ies (and early '80ies, to be fair).

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1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Excellent swordplay

Author: gormsoerensen from Aalborg, Denmark
20 June 2001

The pros of this film are the astonishing fighting scenes - absolutely incredible sword-moves and martial art show off. A true John Woo masterpiece. The story tends to be a bit week though, but it never overshadows the overwhelming display of acrobatic martial art action. If you are into martial art movies, you are going to LOVE this one!

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2 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Woo masterpiece

Author: ( from Latvia
15 February 2005

Another Woo's masterpiece!

This is a best wuxie film i'm ever seen! Woo - RULEZ forever (except some Hollywood moments...). John Woo - greater director of the century.

Maybe hi is not more intellectual than lot of Big Directors... But he is lyrical and spiritual idol of all free-mind people!

His movies like the great poetry! Woo is a Movie Sheakspeare! Woo is a Movie Biron! Woo is a Mozart of Bloodshet!!!!

IMHO violent in Woo films is not a directors bloodlust, but a instrument of art. Themes of Woo movies is more humanistic that more of the new films.

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2 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Not what I expected.... but it's John Woo - so I loved it!

Author: woofan from Winnipeg, Manitoba
28 May 1999

This is one amazing piece of work! I mean really; when you see a movie in the TV guide about a movie made in 1978 and it is an Asian film, you don't really have high expectations! But I decided to watch it after miserably missing "The Killer" on Showcase (I was going to record it)! But I began watching it and the host of The Showcase Revue said that it was "John Woo with swords and knives", so I gave it a shot. It was excellent! It was in subtitles though. Even so, I enjoyed this movie immensely! It is equally as good as Hard Boiled and The Killer (if not, better)! This is full of Woo's trademark styles. Amazing choreography, action - packed battle sequences, blood, action, and violence. It is set in the samurai era. Just give it a chance - you won't be disappointed!

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