Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Eagle Shooting Heroes (1993)

The Eagle Shooting Heroes (1993)

April 30th, 6:30PM in Garland 104 (2441 E. Hartford)

This film is a wide sweeping parody referencing the Chinese Wu Xia (swordplay) genre. It uses many well known Wu Xia films, Novels and TV shows for its subject matter, but in its story it is largely based upon the Jin Yong’s novel of the same name.

The plot in short involves a super powerful martial artist known as Western Poison aka Ouyang Feng (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) who overthrows a king and attempts to take his thrown with the help of his cousin the Queen. The third Princess flees in order to find help in defeating Western Poison and has many comic misadventures before encountering and gathering all the heroes that together will be strong enough to defeat Ouyang Feng.

There have been many Jin Yong adaptations including Tsui Hark's Swordsman trilogy (1990-93), Royal Tramp I & II (1992) and A Deadly Secret (1980) but this film is one of the most unique. Another explanation for the films tone is that it is a Newyear Film, that is, a film designed to be released at the festival time of the Chinese newyear. Newyear films tend to be low in seriousness and comic in tone. It’s a release slot similar to the American Christmas film or Summer Blockbuster.
The Eagle Shooting Heroes was shot practically on the back of the Wong Kar-Wai Wu Xia epic Ashes of Time (1994) using most of the same cast with few exceptions, also both films are based upon the same source material. Even with this being the case they could not be more different. Ashes is a slowly paced, art house drama and Eagle is a over the top slapstick parody film, although both are excellent for what they are.
The cast is made up of some of the top A list stars of the era including Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia, Joey Wong, Maggie Cheung, Jacky Cheung, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Leslie Cheung and Kenny Bee. In addition to this the talent behind the camera is just as pronounced. Directed by Jeffery Lau Chun Wai who made his name with such comedy classics as The 92 Legendary La Rose Noire (1992) and The Haunted Cop Shop (1987). Wong Kar-Wai comes in as Executive Producer and the film was made under his personal JetTone label. This might seem an odd mix, one of the worlds most renowned art house directors involved with a project like this. In fact he had previously collaborated with Lau on several films through the 1980's. James Wong, one of the most accomplished composers ever to work in Hong Kong cinema (his credits include the soundtracks to A Chinese Ghost Story and A Better Tomorrow) gives his usual high level of performance with a series of great comic themes. Lastly Sammo Hung manages the fight choreography with impressive flare and many winks and nods to the classic Wu Xia films of the 1960's.
The Eagle Shooting Heroes remains one of the comic high points that comes just at the cusp of the near collapse of the Hong Kong film industry in the early to mid 1990's. Even though it’s a film parodying a specific genre with many in jokes most viewers will still find it very enjoyable even if they don’t always understand every reference.
Hong Kong, Director Jeffery Lau Chun Wai, Cast Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia, Joey Wong, Maggie Cheung, Jacky Cheung, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Leslie Cheung and Kenny Bee, 100 minutes, in Cantonese with English subtitles.

1 comment:

Yanaliao said...

One of my all time faves! Used to play the 'betamax' everytime I review for an exam. Keeps me awake during the wee hours of the morning. x)