Issue #244a        HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES         December 27th, 2004

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Water Margin: The True Colors of Heroes
(1993; HK Film Entertainment Production/Zhu Jiang Films/China Film Co-Production Company Ltd)

Cantonese: Sui woo juen ji ying hung boon sik
Mandarin: Shui hu zhuan zhi ying xiong ben se
English: Water Margin: The True Colors of Heroes
Alternate English Title: All Men are Brothers -- Blood of the Leopard

RATING: 4/10


Billy Chan Wui-ngai (CRAZY SAFARI) directed this lumbering remake of Ching Kong's 1972 Shaw Brothers picture PURSUIT, itself an adaptation of the Chinese literary classic generally known in English as "All Men Are Brothers." Upright military officer Lin Chung (Tony Leung Kar-fai, looped by another actor) befriends Ru Chi-shen (Elvis Tsui Kam-kong), an obnoxious, alcoholic monk with incredible martial arts abilities. The two soon become inseparable, practising their kung fu at every opportunity. When Lin is framed by a jealous colleague, he faces a military tribunal but is saved by Ru before the soldiers transporting him can carry out orders to slay their prisoner en route. When his wife (Joey Wang Tsu-hsien) and loyal friend The Prime Minister (Wu Ma) are put in harm’s way, Lin plots his revenge but intentionally alienates Ru, in order to save him from what will be certain death.

Tony Leung Kar-fai Elvis Tsui Joey Wang (left), Tony Leung Kar-fai

Far too much of the running time is given over to dull court intrigue and conventional male bonding sequences between Lin and Ru. Elvis Tsui gives one of his most vivid and charismatic portrayals but even he cannot make up for the one dimensional stoicism of Tony Leung Kar-fai's character or Pal Sin Lap-man's unbearable performance as the main villain's incessantly whiny (and seemingly retarded) son. Also, compared to other period fantasies of the time, most of the action in this HK/China co-production is clumsily staged, with ample cuts utilized in an attempt to improve the less-than-fluid choreography. A good supporting cast (including Lau Shun, Lam Wai, Austin Wai Tin-chi, and Lau Ching-wan in a rare period film appearance) helps somewhat.

Lam Wai Lau Shun Lau Ching-wan


The source material has a few speckles but, overall, the presentation looks quite acceptable. The Cantonese version is available in both 5.1 and DTS, augmented with many new foley FX. There is some crackle and hiss on the track but the re-mix adds considerable energy to the action scenes and the changes are not too distracting. There are also English (5.1) and Mandarin (the original mix in 2.0 mono) editions, a few trailers (the HK theatrical spot for this movie and video promos for seven other titles), and a new and improved subtitle translation.

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Images in this review courtesy of Tai Seng. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.

DVD Specifications

  • U.S. Release
  • NTSC Region 0
  • Tai Seng Entertainment #46804
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0/ DTS
  • Post-synced Cantonese, Mandarin, and Dubbed English Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English
  • 12 Chapters
  • 4:3 Letterbox (1.74:1)
  • 99 Minutes

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Australia: M 15+
  • Quebec: G
  • Singapore: PG


  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful