Issue #271          HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES               July 11th, 2005

Heroes of the East
(1978; Shaw Brothers)

Cantonese: Chung wah cheung fu
Mandarin: Zhong hua zhang fu
English: Chinese Husband
Alternate English Titles: Challenge of the Ninja, Shaolin Challenges Ninja


  RATING: 8/10


An arranged marriage between a Chinese man and a Japanese woman forms the basis of this excellent Shaw Brothers production from director Lau Kar-leung. To (Gordon Lau Kar-fai) and Kung-zi (Yuka Mizuno) are a happy couple, but a cultural clash soon arises when she proceeds to demolish half of the house with her destructive Japanese martial arts. When To defeats her using Chinese forms and weapons, she refuses to learn the more demure style of Chinese kung fu and returns home to Japan. A ruse by To to try and get Kung-zi to return backfires and results in seven skilled Japanese fighters (led by Yasuaki Kurota) journeying to China with the intention of defending the reputation of their martial arts techniques. Desperate to get out of this fix, while also preserving the honor of his fellow Chinese fighters, To utilizes various facets of his training in order to triumph against his diverse opponents.

Gordon Lau Kar-fai (left), Yuka Mizuno Gordon Lau Kar-fai

The portion of the film devoted to the marital conflict is simplistic and tiresome (though it does play slightly better here than in the insipidly dubbed English version), but the presentation of cultural differences in both life and martial arts is an excellent premise. In addition to being a welcome change from the usual genre conventions (not one single person dies!), the film is an excellent showcase for Gordon Lau's incredible skills, which seem to encompass every fighting discipline. The final bout, pitting Lau against Yasuaki Kurota's ninjitsu tricks is a particular pleasure to behold and a far more reverent depiction of that Japanese art than one regularly finds in American movies. The director appears as drunken master Beggar So, while Simon Yuen Siu-tien, Norman Tsui Siu-keung, Lee Hoi-sang, Wilson Tong Wai-shing, Ha Ping, and Chan Lung are among the supporting players.

Yasuaki Kurota Lau Kar-leung (left), Gordon Lau Kar-fai


The presentation is a bit softer than the best of these restorations, but the rather diffuse image seems to have been conceptual and the transfer is obviously far preferable to the old pan-and-scan Vista tape release. Less impressive is the soundtrack, though the tampering is generally not destructive (both the Cantonese and Mandarin versions include some Japanese dialogue). The regular Celestial extras are complimented by the original HK theatrical trailer and two brief supplements. ELEGANT TRAILS: GORDON LIU CHIA-HUI (6 minutes) is carried over from the CLAN OF THE WHITE LOTUS DVD (issue #265), while THE MARTIAL WAY (1 minute) presents the various interpretations of this famous phrase. The disc has not been flagged for progressive scan playback.

Simon Yuen Siu-tien Yasuaki Kurota

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Intercontinental Video Ltd. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2005. All Rights Reserved.


- Hong Kong Release

NTSC – Region 3 Only

Intercontinental Video Ltd. #104411

Dolby Digital 5.1

Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin Language

Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional Chinese

12 Chapters

16:9 Enhanced (2.35:1)

100 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)


- Australia: G

Great Britain: 15 (cut)

Manitoba: PG

Nova Scotia: 14

Ontario: PG

Quebec: G

Singapore: PG

United States: PG

Contains mild violence

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