Also known as Challenge of the Ninja, Shaolin vs. Ninja and Shaolin Challenges Ninja, this Lau Kar Leung-directed film has more Japanese martial arts on display than you usually see from a Hong Kong movie. The Japanese characters are also treated with respect, unlike many of these movies, and Lau insisted that none of the fights ended in death.
Ho Tao (Gordon Liu) has entered an arranged marriage with the daughter of one of his father’s Japanese business associates. When he watches her do martial arts, Yumiko Koda’s style is too rough and unladylike for Ho Tao, so he demands that she study the more feminine styles of Chinese kung fu. She’s too modern of a woman for him as well, as she immediately leaves him behind and starts training with her childhood friend Takeno.
To get her back, Ho Tao creates a challenge to determine which country has the better kung fu. Of course, he also has poor manners and infuriates the Japanese martial artists so much that their battles become real and not just exhibitions. Plus, now that Takeno has Yumiko Koda again, he doesn’t plan on giving her up and will use all of his ninjitsu skills to keep her in Japan.
There are a variety of styles on display here — samurai sword versus straight sword, Sino-Okinawan karate vs. Chinese Drunken Fist, Japanese crab-style vs. Chinese crane fist and many more — and those battles make this an incredibly interesting movie for those that love armed and unarmed combat.
It’s also rare in that it’s set in the 1930s and not the far-flung past. I had a blast with this film, a movie that mixes romance, comedy and battles into one overall great time.
The Arrow Video Shaw Scope Volume One box set has a gorgeous version of Heroes from the East with uncompressed Mandarin, Cantonese and English original mono audio, as well as newly translated English subtitles and English hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dubs.
It also has new commentary from A Brief History of the Martial Arts author Jonathan Clements, an interview with Yasuaki Kurata, alternate opening credits for Shaolin Challenges Ninja and a trailer and U.S. TV commercial.
You can get this set from MVD.
You can also stream this movie on the Arrow player. Visit ARROW to start your 30-day free trial. Subscriptions are available for $4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly. ARROW is available in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Android TV and mobile devices, Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at https://www.arrow-player.com.