5.9/10
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7 user 3 critic

Heroes of the Wild (1977)

Da wu shi yu xiao piao ke (original title)
A regional champion martial artist that moonlights as an honour-bound assassin, Tu Ta Shen, solidifies his reputation by challenging top fighters en route to the other champion, Nan Pa Tien... See full summary »

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(screenplay), (screenplay) (as Chang Hsin-Yee) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Sing Chen ...
Tu Tashan (as Chen Xing)
Jang Lee Hwang ...
Tien Lung Chong (as Wong Zheng Lieh)
Chung-Erh Lung ...
Shanmei
Biao Yuen ...
Sword and Knife Man
Hua Chung Ting ...
Hsiao Hu (as Ding Hwa Chong)
Corey Yuen ...
Spearman (as Yuen Kwai)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ming Lieh Chan ...
Hsiao Hung
Man-No Chen
Shao Bao Ge
Pai Lin
Lieh Lo
Biu Yuan
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Storyline

A regional champion martial artist that moonlights as an honour-bound assassin, Tu Ta Shen, solidifies his reputation by challenging top fighters en route to the other champion, Nan Pa Tien, in order to unify both titles. Along the way he defeats a man who's shame in defeat drives him to suicide. Before he dies, recognizing Tu Ta Shen honour, he asks Tu Ta Shen to defeat a group of Manchu supporters led by none other that Nan Pa Tien. The dying mans son, Sa Woo, tries to kill Tu Ta Shen but is easily outmatched. Tu Ta Shen offer to teach Sa Yoo enough so that he can take revenge for his father. The two set out together; One to fulfill a promise to a dying man, one to keep a promise of revenge. Written by M. Astaphan

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Action | Drama

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1977 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

Hero of the Wild Kung Fu Challenger  »

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2.35 : 1
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Edited into Hero of Shaolin (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Historically fascinating, and just well made, genre film
19 October 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

ej's kung-fu capsule review for films of the chop-socky old-school - 1. basic plot type - Family honor must be avenged; traitors must be ferreted out and destroyed; a young man comes of age by learning kung-fu from a real master. the film also has a more complicated dramatic plot elements than most 'fu films of this era. Chen Xing plays an aging fighter with traditional values who decides to train the son of a man he has shamed into committing suicide. The relationship between master and student thus becomes extremely complex, and may surprise those familiar with simpler variants of these plot elements from countless other old school 'fu films.

2. plot construction - Audacious; there is a real effort to make these characters 3-dimensional, and to develop a narrative that allows this to happen. However, the film is a little slow in spots.

3. dramatic - Yes, very; above average dialog and real effort by the cast to deliver the lines in a believable manner. The story also has a strong theme, concerning the difficulties of living as a righteous warrior in very unrighteous times. That's a common theme in this genre, but here it is really brought to the fore. The decision to set the story on the eve of the Manchurian overthrow of the Ming dynasty adds an element of foreboding that enhances the tension of the film - the collapse of the Ming was due in part to a betrayal by one of the leading Ming generals. Consequently the subplot concerning the discovery of traitors is given more weight than it would normally have in a 'fu film; and the issue is emphasized from a different perspective by the relationship between the master and student, since the master, almost accidentally, suggests that the student should be prepared to betray him in order to get revenge for his father's death (!) - this is a very complex thematic work-out for this genre.

4. funny - Occasionally.

5. dialog - Solid - about character rather than events; the central relationship between master and student is entirely credible.

6. cast performance - Very strong; this is probably the single best performance by Chen Xing, who could act as well as perform martial arts.

7. crew performance - More than simply competent - very nice camera work.

8. amount of fighting - Plenty.

9. quality of fighting - Top notch.

10. special any cast or crew notes - Chen Xing acted in a lot of old school 'fu films, from the late '60s to the early '80s. He was a true master of the Shaolin styles of kung fu, but also an excellent actor, able to play many different roles. Most 'fu film fans will best remember him as the villain of any number of historically-set 'fu films, but he actually began his career playing heroes, and was first delegated to villain roles during a brief stay at Shaw Bros. working under master director Chang Cheh. Chen Xing performed in many of the best - and some of the worst - films of the chop-socky era, but his performance is always solidly professional, regardless of the quality of the film he's in.

This film also represents early work from Corey Yuen (Yuen Kwei) of the Yuen Clan (Yuen Woo Ping, Simon Yuen, etc.), and Yuen Biao of the Lucky Stars troop (Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, etc.), as martial arts choreographers. The third choreographer is listed as "Tony Tu" which I suspect is a pseudonym for Ching Siu Tung. Director William Chang also gets credits for photography and for co-writing the screenplay. Chang later flowered as art-director and production designer on a lot of films of the "New Wave" '80s.

11. big positive - A very strong story with strong characters played by strong actors.

12. big negative - Slow at times.

bottom-line - who should see this movie - It is probably most enjoyable for those familiar with the old school 'fu film tradition; for new-comers to chop-socky, the complicated plot and theme may be a bit confusing. Still, for those open to it, this is a finely made genre film, richly rewarding.


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