A Man Called Hero

A Man Called Hero (1999)
Tai Seng Video Marketing
Cast: Ekin Cheng, Shu Qi, Nicholas Tse, Kristy Yang
Extras: Documentary, Trailers, Cast & Crew Biographies

After the success of ’The Storm Riders, ’ fans of Hong Kong cinema had been eagerly awaiting movies that would be somewhat in the same vein, and the answer came in the form of ’A Man Called Hero.’ Created by mostly the same people, the movie is also based on a long running comic that has now been turned into a feature film, boasting a great cast, fine martial arts and stunning visuals. However, ’A Man Called Hero’ is also plagued by the same problems as ’The Storm Riders’ was. The story feels lengthy and somewhat disjointed without proper knowledge of the comic. The movie makes frequent use of computer generated effects of varying quality. While some of them are spectacular, most of them are not up to par to today’s standards and especially the climactic fight on top of the Statue Of Liberty appears more like a cinematic form a computer game than an actual movie sequence.

Universe Laser has released ’A Man Called Hero’ that is imported to the US through Tai Seng Video Marketing. The movie is presented in a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer in its 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The print is clean and without blemishes or speckles and has a good level of detail. Colors are very naturally reproduced, capturing the movie’s beautiful photography of America’s 30s. Blacks are deep, giving the image visual depth, but sadly the compression of the film left some noticeable artifacts in the image, which are mostly evident in banding effects, as well as a loss of detail particularly in the shadows, and pixelation.

The DVD boasts 5.1 channel Dolby Digital audio tracks in Cantonese and Mandarin that are nicely produced and make good use of the format’s surround capabilities. Being a rather new film, surrounds are used aggressively and the entire track has a natural sounding quality with good bass extension. Subtitles in Chinese and English are also included in the release, as well as an interesting 15-minute ’Making Of’ documentary.

’A Man Called Hero’ is a slowly developing movie that uses kung fu rather sparingly. As a real drama, the film develops slowly and gradually facets of the characters are unveiled. Because the acting in the film is superb throughout and features an almost obligatory Anthony Wong highlight, I found myself intrigued more by the characters than the actual story. It is a solid film that is well crafted, but fans of furious high-end martial arts spectacles may have trouble with the slowly developing story.