Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 26th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, August 14th, 1970
Director: Cheh Chang
Writers: Cheh Chang, Kuang Ni
Cast: David Chiang, Han Chin, Lung Ti, Lily Li, James Nam, Chung Wang, Feng Ku, Sing Chen, Lei Cheng, Kuang Yu Wang, Kang Liu, Chia Yung Liu, Pei Chi Huang, Chuen Chan, Wai Lo, Chia Wen Pao, Yuan Sung, Bolo Yeung
DVD released: September 16th, 2008
Approximate running time: 121 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Mandarin, Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English, Chinese
DVD Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.98
Synopsis: Chu Wen a power hungry ambassador to the emperor Tang, pits Li Ke Yung the king of the Sha To province against a rebel general.
The Heroic Ones is an epic tale about loyalty and betrayal that was directed by Cheh Chang one of the Shaw Brothers most influential directors during the late 1960’s and 1970’s. His most notable films as a director include The One-Armed Swordsman, Golden Swallow, Crippled Avengers and Five Deadly Venoms. Visually The Heroic Ones perfectly combines melodrama with awe inspiring sword fights. This is an action film first and foremost with the film’s only weakness being that there are too many lead characters that never fully get time to blossom.
The story as a whole is very satisfying as alliances are broken and no one is safe even from family from betrayal. One of the film back-stories is about two of Li Ke Yung’s sons Li Tsun Hsin and Li Kang Chun who are jealous of their younger brother Li Tsun Hsiao who gets the approval they so desperately want from their father. This sub plot also leads to the film’s most disturbing moment was when Li Tsun Hsin and Li Kang Chun dismember their younger Li Tsun Hsiao. The real villain of the story is ambassador Chu Wen whose scheming for personal gain is what sets forth Li Tsun Hsin and Li Kang Chun betraying of their family. The way the film ends leaves Chu Wen’s fate unresolved.
The cast are all very good all around with the standout performance coming from David Chiang as Li Tsun Hsiao. Also in Bolo Yeung in one of his first roles appears as General Meng. The score for the film features a music cue from the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Ultimately The Heroic Ones makes up for its underdeveloped characters with its exceptional action sequences.
Well Go USA presents The Heroic Ones in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Colors look vibrant and nicely saturated. Flesh tones look natural and black levels remain strong and consistent throughout. This is a clean looking transfer that looks detailed throughout. The image is interlaced and there are issues with combing which is more pronounced during the action sequences.
This release comes with two audio options Mandarin and English. Both audio options are presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes. Both audio mixes sound clean, clear and evenly balanced. These 5.1 remixes do a good job retaining the feel of the original mono source as they never sound hallow or top spread out. Two subtitle options have been included English and Chinese. Both subtitle options are removable.
Extras include are limited to a trailer for The Heroic Ones. Overall The Heroic Ones is another strong release from Well Go USA that comes with multiple audio options and a clean looking transfer.