Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Eagle Shooting Heroes (1993) - Celebrating Chinese New Year!


Director: Jeffrey Lau
Producer: Wong Kar Wai
Action Choreographer: Sammo Hung
Stars: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Maggie Cheung, Brigitte Lin
Leslie Cheung, Jackie Cheung, Carina Lau, Kenny B, Joey Wong
Veronica Yip
Genre: parody, wuxia comedy, fantasy

This movie was released in 1993 to celebrate lunar chinese new year! I figured it was so festive, so off the wall, so wicked, and chock full of heavy hitting movie stars that I would bring it back one more time for our unseen minds!

Just a little background information on this film, The Eagle Shooting Heroes is a parody of a novel called The Legend of the Condor Heroes. This novel is such a classic that many a TV series in Hong Kong & China have developed an adaptation to the story as early as 1976. Shaw Brother’s studio film fans might recognize The Brave Archer movie series which was also based on the Legend of the Condor Heroes.

Now back to 1993, Wong Kar Wai was the producer of this film with Jeffrey Lau as the director. At the same time, Wong Kar Wai was also directing Ashes of Time which was a serious adaptation of Legend of the Condor Heroes and believe it or not, he used the same cast in Ashes of Time to star in The Eagle Shooting Heroes! The only difference was that the actors were shuffled around to play different characters in the movie!

The story of the Legend of the Condor Heroes is set in the Song & Jin Dynasties as the Jin (Tribal Manchuria) look to destroy the Song (China). Meanwhile, the Mongols lurk in the background and would eventually conquer both of these regimes to unify China. Two heroes from the Song Dynasty would be killed leaving their sons to be the fore-bearers of their family name. One son would be raised by the Mongols, while the other would be raised by the Jins! Talk about conflicts of interest! The story would basically be about the trials & tribulations of both of these warriors and their decisions to fight for their true ancestry or not. Would power, greed, & women get in the way?

Now with that background story in mind, throw it all out the window! The Eagle Shooting Heroes would poke fun and pull the persian rug from under the whole premise! Think in the direction of “Kung Fu Hustle”. Total buffoonery and fun! The action though, was off the scale & was certainly not a joke as Sammo Hung threw down some elbow grease to direct the awesome fight sequences! My only beef was that the fight scenes seemed to be sped up quite a bit. But, in hindsight it might of been intentional to add some more slapstick to the story! The characters played by Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Leslie Cheung (R.I.P.), Jackie Cheung, Carina Lau, Tony Leung Ka fai, & Brigitte Lin were standouts in the film!


Some of the senseless, but fun plots involved Ouyang Feng (Tony Leung Chui Wai), a shady kung fu villain & a close relative to the persian king. Feng has an affair with his cousin (Veronica Yip) and this evil duo would team up to try and take the throne. The persian couple would battle the Princess (Brigitte Lin) but her Tsunami punch is no match for the rancid Toad style of Ouyang Feng. The princess then goes on the road to look for a secret book of martial arts located in the white bone cave known as the Book of Yin. The sorceress (Maggie Cheung) provides assistance to feng by predicting actions on her crystal ball of the whereabouts of the princess as well as give secret weapons to Tony Leung Chiu Wai like the deadly flying boot & the invincible bees! Ouyang Feng would ultimately meet his match when he encounters Hong Quigong, the Beggar (Jackie Cheung). Even with thoughts of suicide, the Beggar lays a nice beatdown to the Persian wanna be prince! Hong Quigong contemplates suicide because his cousin, Suiqui (Joey Wang) rejects his advances. Fortunately, he never succeeds in taking his own life because he is too busy bruising up Feng while still in hot pursuit of his cousin!

The rest of the story would entangle the theme of searching for love. Yaoshi Huang (Leslie Cheung) can’t decide who he wants as Suqui and the Princess would be on his tasting menu! Zhou Botong (Carina Lau) plays a role as a man in the QuangZhen Clan out to seek revenge for the death of his kung fu brother! Yes, Botong had homosexual feelings towards the brother. How wacky was that, Carina Lau playing a gay man?! Duan (Tony Leung Ka Fai) is an Indian prince who seeks true love in order to reach immortality. Mind you, his true love will have a “666” tattoed on his body!

Some funny sequences from the movie include encounters with 3 kaiju’s (monsters) that would not be too enthralled with humans looking for this Book of Jin in their White Bone cave! There were many funny scenes in the movie but when Duan finally finds his true love with the “666” engraved in HIM it would make for nice laughs! Floating heads, killer boots to the head, gay love, crossdressing, weird musical numbers, tantalizing kung fu action in wuxia glory, & ballet dancing would be a few appetizing things to look forward to in this lunar new year special!

The Eagle Shooting Heroes generated 2 hours full of fun, wacky, & wild--mass hysteria! Jeffrey Lau & Wong Kar Wai sure didn’t hold back with addressing issues on homophobia & sexuality! In real life, Leslie Cheung (r.i.p.) was a homosexual. I wonder how he really felt about filming this movie. In contrast, this same cast also went on to film Ashes of Time, a serious rendition of the story of the Legend of the Condor Heroes.

Happy Year of the Dragon folks!


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