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Heroes Of The East (Shaolin Challenges Ninja) 
Written by: on August 22nd, 2008

Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1979
Director: Chia-Liang Liu
Writer: Kuang Ni
Cast: Gordon Liu , Lung Chan, Kang-Yeh Cheng, Miao Ching, Norman Chu, Ping Ha, Linda Lin Di Ho, Hou Hsiao, Pa-Ching Huang, Maozo Kato, Ho Chiu Kei, Yasuaki Kurata

DVD released: May 27th, 2008
Approximate running time: 104 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital mono Cantonese, Dolby Digital mono Mandarin and Dolby Digital mono English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
DVD Release: Dragon Dynasty
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.97

Synopsis: An arranged marriage between a Chinese gentleman and a Japanese lady results in culture clash. Because they are both versed in martial arts, this battle of the sexes is more like a war.

This is a martial arts movie in the strictest sense as the primary purpose is to showcase the various Chinese and Japanese martial disciplines and paraphernalia. The first half is your basic screwball comedy as the newlyweds discover irreconcilable differences. An ill-advised challenge to his wife is intercepted by her suitor who seizes the opportunity to shame the husband who must defend against masters in every discipline. Who else could even attempt such a feat but Gordon Liu?

There are no actual fights, but contests instead. There are no villains, the animosities due to language barriers and cultural misunderstandings – except for trying to steal another man’s wife (that transcends culture). The performances are all exemplary including acting, martial arts, and character roles.

The film makes significant attempts to portray the Japanese as dignified and worthy of respect, even as it constantly demonstrates Japanese culture to be inferior [to Chinese].The screwball humor makes this more palatable but there is a definite bias and some might take it as an affront.

The DVD:

This is a beautiful anamorphic print in the original ShawScope aspect. Mandarin, Cantonese, and English plus English and Spanish subtitles. Extras for this release include an audio commentary with Hong Kong Cinema Expert Bey Logan, trailers, two interviews “Spotlight on a Legend: Celebrated Martial Arts Icon Lau Kar-Leung” an interview with Bey Logan (36 minutes), “Hero Of Shaolin” an interview with Gordon Liu (22 minutes) and a twenty six minute featurette titled “Shaolin Vs. Ninja”. Commentaries and features make this a special edition.

This film is unusual in that no one is killed or maimed, an aspect which broadens the potential audience beyond the ‘chop-socky’ fan base. The contests are exciting, the humor is funny, and the performances are excellent. A nice change from the typical revenge drama and a good introduction for a novice to Hong Kong films.

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