Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 29th, 2016
BluRay released: December 6th, 2016
Approximate running time: 120 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Cantonese, Dolby Digital Stereo Cantonese, DTS-HD 5.1 Mandarin, Dolby Digital Stereo Mandarin
Subtitles: English, Chinese
BluRay Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
Synopsis: At the turn of the 20th century the rural village of Pucheng finds itself vulnerable when its military is forced to fight on the front line. Shortly thereafter the sadistic son of an enemy general arrives in the village and murders three people. And when the local law enforcement puts the general’s son in jail. This act leads an all-out assault on the village by enemy forces.
Call of Heroes was directed by Benny Chan who’s other notable films include, Robin-B-Hood, Invisible Target and Connected. Key collaborators on Call of Heroes include, action director Sammo Kam-Bo Hung (Knockabout, Eastern Condors) and cinematographer Chor Keung Chan (Detective Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Flame).
Chinese cinema has been on a kick lately when it comes to film’s that take place in the past. And though many of these films are loosely based on historical events.. There are just as many of these film’s that uses the past to tell stories that are not bound by the reality from which those aforementioned films are. With that being said, Call of Heroes falls into the latter category as films that are more about yearning for something that once was.
Content wise, this film is an equal parts old school martial arts film and Sukiyaki Western. The narrative is well constructed, pacing is not as issues as things move along briskly and the character are well defined. And the characters their motivation are always clear and all characters are either good or bad, there are no grey areas as far this film is concerned. Needless to say, in regards to the more dramatic moments this film far exceeds what one expects from other similar themed films.
The film’s visuals do a superb job reinforcing the epic scope of this film. And nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to this the well-executed action set pieces are inventive. With this saving its best action set pieces for its finale. There are two outstanding action set pieces in the finale.
Performance wise the entire cast are very good in their respective roles. With this film’s two standout performances being Eddie Peng (Tai Chi Hero, Rise of the Legend) in the role of a lazy wanderer who does his best to stay out of conflict and Louis Koo (Triple Tap, Accident) in the role of the general’s sadistic son who has been imprisoned for murdering three people. Other notable performances include, Jing Wu (Wind Blast, Badges of Fury) in the role of the general’s son’s right hand man and Ching Wan Lau (The Great Magician, Fairy Tale Killer) in the role of the Sheriff who locked up Koo’s character and now because of his decision the whole town is put in the line of fire. Overall Louis Koo is this film’s Yin to Ching Wan Lau’s Yang.
Call of Heroes comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Details look sharp, colors and flesh tones look natural and black levels remain strong throughout. There are no issues with compression and DNR is kept in check.
This release comes with four audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Mandarin, a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Mandarin, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Cantonese and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Cantonese. Both of the DTS-HD mixes are in great shape. Dialog is clear and everything is balanced. Range and depth wise both audio mixes sound robust when they need too and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented. Included with this release are two subtitle options, English and Chinese.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (1 minute 40 seconds) and eight “Making of” segments (Total Running Time 15 minutes 30 seconds). Other extras include trailers for Operation Mekong, Cold War II and Three. All extra content is in Chinese with English subtitles. Overall Call of Heroes gets a solid audio / video presentation from Well Go USA.
Note: This film is also being released by Well Go USA on DVD.