CALL OF HEROES
Directed by Benny Chan
Special Mention for Best Action, 2016 Fantastic Fest
Packed with action and star power, this wuxia melodrama by Benny Chan (Shaolin, SDAFF ‘11) tells the story of an honorable sheriff (Lau Ching-wan) of a small town terrorized by the sociopathic son (Louis Koo) of a feared warlord. If these two represent good and evil, the other players’ moral codes are less clear; the warlord’s lieutenant (Wu Jing) and a wandering warrior-for-hire (Eddie Peng) act on incentive rather than standards. The film explores other ethical continuums as well, such as repaying one’s debt versus forging one’s own path, and following one’s sense of justice versus suppressing it for the greater good.
Referencing spaghetti westerns — with doses of comic relief — and samurai dramas, the film is refreshingly free of excessive CGI and features action direction by Sammo Hung, who showcases his inventive moves and use of props, including a very satisfying deployment of a wicker sifter by the sheriff’s wife (Yuan Quan).
CALL OF HEROES makes plain its references. Peng’s character is nicknamed the Monkey King by the children he “rescues.” The warlord’s son uses his status to continue his depravity — behavior not unfamiliar in modern times. The political allusions — to Hong Kong, China, or elsewhere — are all-too contemporary, and perhaps land the most heroic punch of all. –Wilda Wong
Co-presented by: PANPAC
Writer: Benny Chan, Doug Wong, Tam Wai-ching, Tim Tong, Chien I-chueh
Starring: Louis Koo, Ching Wan Lau, Eddie Peng, Jing Wu