88 FILMS BLU RAY RELEASE: Hero (1997)

A remake of The Boxer from ShantungHero is the story of Ma Wing-jing (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and his older brother Ma Tai-cheung (Yuen Wah), who have left their home to find fortune on the streets of Shanghai.

Sadly, the streets are not paved with gold and the brothers find themselves merely existing by doing manual labor. Yet one day while admiring gangster Tam Sei’s (Yuen Biao) horse carriage, Ma Wing-jing is challenged to a race: Tam Sei’s horse against his human running ability. Sure, he loses, but the two become friends.

Tam Sei may have the British government on his side, but his rival Yang Shuang (Yuen Tak) has the cops on his payroll. Once Ma Wing-jing saves Tam Sei from an assassination attempt, he is given some territory and power, which goes to his head. He eventually pushes himself toward fighting Yang Shuang on his own.

Director Corey Yuen and writer Jeffrey Lau made a gangster epic that is only 90 minutes long plus it has martial arts and wild moments like Yuen Biao rising from a coffin and blasting numerous rifles, not to mention a fight atop a speeding train between Yuen Wah and Baio for a silver watch. Also: so many axe wounds, slices and decapitations.

A movie that has plenty of guts and gore, this takes The Boxer from Shantung, takes a little bit of every great gangster film that came between 1972 and 1997 — John Woo, Scorsese, De Palma, Coppola — frenetically paces the whole thing and dares you to keep up.

88 Films blu ray release of Hero has a high definition 1080p presentation of the movie, as well as audio commentary with Asian cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema, English and Hong Kong trailers, alternate scenes from the Taiwanese version, a slipcase with art from R.P. “Kung Fu Bob” O’Brien and a booklet with notes by Andrew Graves. You can get it from MVD.

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