Hong Kong Digital is sponsored by ...
Please see the Hong Kong Digital home page for a special offer from Poker Industries to Hong Kong Digital readers.

November 12th, 2001 Issue #82

Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- associate editor / film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.

Chivalrous Legend
(1999; Chang Hong Film & Video Co.)

Cover art courtesy Universe.

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Hup do jing chuen
Mandarin: Xia dao zheng chuan
English: Legend of the Thieving Hero


The cover art for this Taiwanese feature gives the impression that it is a period fantasy but Cai Yang-ming's CHIVALROUS LEGEND (which bypassed HK theatres and premiered on video) actually concerns the China - Japan war fought at the end of the 19th century. As part of the treaty signed by The Chin Dynasty in 1894, the Japanese were given control of Taiwan and treated that country's people with the sort of neglect and contempt that almost guaranteed an eventual uprising. After his mother is murdered by invading soldiers, young kung fu whiz Liao Ten-din (Hsi Hsiao-long / Sik Siu-lung) takes refuge with an opera troupe (run by Blackie Ko Shou-liang). Caught performing an anti-Japanese play, the company is attacked and Liao barely escapes. The film picks up in 1903, with Liao (now played by Jimmy Lin Chi-ying) becoming the Robin Hood of his age, stealing from the invaders and giving their cash to his poverty-stricken countrymen. Along the way, Liao falls in love with both the righteous Yih and prostitute Liu (Vivian Hsu Ruo-hsuan), the latter a childhood friend he unsuccessfully tried to save from slave traders years earlier.

Vivian Hsu (left) and Jimmy Lin (right). Image courtesy Universe.

You know you are on shaky cinematic ground when the opening shot of a movie features one of the worst CGI effects in history (that break-up at the bottom of the screen isn't your disc, folks) but this modest effort is more competently staged thereafter. Unfortunately, it never deviates from formula and suffers from Jimmy Lin's inability to project authority and strength in a convincing manner. As with his earlier performance in BUTTERFLY & SWORD, Lin is also completely unconvincing as a kung fu master (you hardly ever get to see his character's face whenever a fight starts up). Ironically, the production's only real novelty is its reliance on wire-enhanced action, not something commonly seen in Taiwanese war movies.

DVD Specs:

Universe #5726
Dolby Digital 2.0
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks (both post-synched)
Optional Subtitles In English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
8 Chapters Illustrated With Clips
Letterboxed (1.75:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
96 Minutes
Contains mid-range violence and brief, non-explicit sexual violence

DVD menu courtesy Universe.

Film Board Ratings and Consumer Advice

Hong Kong: OAT I (likely IIB by the theatrical ratings system)
Singapore: PG


The image is rather soft and bland with light blacks. Colors are good, however, and the presentation is okay overall. The Mandarin track is a bit flat, while the Cantonese dub is sharper but hissy. Both tracks are post-synched, though, during bits where characters speak Japanese, the original production sound is heard (allowing Hsu to display her proficiency in that language). The English subtitles are rendered in a smaller font than Universe generally uses and the translation is well below the company's usual standards. There are no extras.

CHIVALROUS LEGEND is available at Poker Industries.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000, 2001. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

Hong Kong Digital is presented in association with Hong Kong Entertainment News In Review