The Eagle Shooting Heroes
1993 Directed by Jeff Lau. Starring Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung Chi Wah, Bridget Lin, Joey Wang, Jacky Cheung, Carina Lau, Tony Leung Kar Fei.
REVIEWED By Joey O'Bryan, Fri., March 24, 1995
Based upon a famous Chinese novel, The Eagle Shooting Heroes takes the characters from that famous tome and uses them to parody the Cantonese swordplay melodramas, or “Wu Xia Pian,” films that were popular staples of the Hong Kong cinema in the Sixties. The complex story, which weaves together five parallel plot lines (a telling sign of Ashes of Time writer-director Wong Kar Wei's involvement as producer/co-writer) is nigh impossible to summarize. The bizarre assortment of unusual characters creates a variety of crazed situations, including cross-dressing, broken alliances, suicide attempts, and love triangles. Hardcore fans will remember Lau as the director of the wonderfully loony Haunted Cop Shop series, and his comic sense of spontaneity is equally on-target here as in those memorable pictures. The top-flight cast has Hong Kong's biggest stars paying tribute to the swordplay stars of old while simultaneously going wildly over the top in terms of pure silliness -- all in the name of comedy. Standouts include Hard-Boiled's Tony Leung Chi Wah as the dastardly villain who uses the hilarious “Toad Style” in combat, Ashes of Time's Carina Lau, who is dressed in drag playing a man, The Lover's Tony Leung Kar Fei as an outrageously flamboyant priest seeking eternal life, and the terrifically charismatic Bridget Lin (who starred as Invincible Asia in Ching Sui Tung's Swordsman II and III) as a princess masquerading as a man in order to reclaim the throne. There are several hilarious sequences, with the most outstanding being Tony Leung Chi Wah's futile attempts to help Jackie Chung commit suicide, and while there is undoubtedly much lost in the typically ridiculous translations, it doesn't destroy the entertainment value of this colorful, delightfully mad comedy.