I appreciate this masterpiece which shows me the best Kaneshiro Takeshi, Yuen Biao and Valerie Chow. I always love the comedy of Yuen Wah. The self-parody of each character including the villain by Yuen Tak is happy. Surely, the best film of the year 1997.
- 主演：元奎 … 金鈴子叔叔
- 暗黒街 若き英雄伝説
- Beam Entertainment 1999年03月25日 DVD
- English title: Hero
A new legend
This is my absolute favourite. The originality of the amazing actions. The emotional drama and the surprises. The all actors are marvellous. This masterpiece has the power of the top ’90s action such as Police Story.
If there would be the elements preventing this film to be more popular, these are probably the brutal scenes and the incoherent setting of time.
According to the history, this story must be in the 1870s. However, the film tells that they are in 1898. So, this is entirely a fiction just borrowing the characteristics from a legendary person.
The story is obviously influenced from The Bund. The historical backdrop is quite ambiguous. The genius Jeffrey Lau always makes an extravagant and exciting story.
Ma Wing-jing is the actual person who is the Chinese martial artist called "Invincible" at the end of Qing dynasty. He assumed as military instructors of Songjiang District.
The history proves that he was really strong, and doesn’t show that he was a gangster. However, his death hides the mystery. Ma Wing-jing was died by a plotted assassination in the 13 April 1879 at the restaurant 一洞天 on Nanjing Road in Shanghai. Why he was assassinated? No one knows the background.
At the middle part of the film, Yam Yeung-tien sold him to Yang Shuang. This is the caricature of his death. He was assaulted just like the historical fact. But, he survives and at last leaves Shanghai. I don’t like a pessimistic story. This ending is agreeable.
Ma Wing-jing and the horse
The horse saved the life of Ma Wing-jing. This is surely not a realistic development, but the idea is based on the reality. He was actually familiar with the horse.
He was especially strong at horseback riding. He has several famous techniques. These are realized at the beginning of the film. When I saw this scene, Kaneshiro Takeshi and Yuen Biao make a duel at horseback, I felt that this film is already the masterpiece.
At the final battle, Yen Biao uses the gadgets like a machin gun. This scene reminds me of Una nuvola di polvere… un grido di morte… arriva Sartana. The gunfight of this film is very Spaghetti Western. The people with full of dynamite, this is a typical style of Mexican revolutionist.
Jessica Hsuan is 26 years old in this film, the same age as Valerie Chow. She is obviously the most popular TV actress since 1996. She is mainly working for TV and rewarded the numerous prizes every year.
She is called as 無綫五大當家花旦之一 which roughly means "The top on the big five TVB actresses" .
As every TV series are not always available from the outside of Greater China, it’s difficult to see her. This is the sole her film released in Japan.
Ma Wing-jing is repeatedly cinematized in Hong Kong. Antecedent to this film, two films and two TV series were released. Then, Corey Yuen made his original Ma Wing-jing. Only this film is far from the history.
Tam Sei, Kam Ling-tze and Yang Shuang are the character supposing directly inherited from Boxer from Shantung in 1972. Both films are produced by Shaw Brothers. Ma Wing-jing has a little sister, but doesn’t have an elder brother in real.
Yuen Wah is the best for this unhappy brother. This brothers are enough crazy. Kaneshiro Takeshi is also strong for the comedy. We know well it from such as China Dragon.
The following year, a new TVB series starring by Kenny Ho was broadcasted. This is apparently made after the success of the film. I think that Ma Wing-jing indicates generally this series in which Fan Bing-bing appears as a guest.
By the way, Kaneshiro Takeshi is starring in Downtown Torpedoes in the same year. I have its Japanese edition DVD. I’ll watch it later.
Cherchez la femme
There is a quote "Cherchez la femme". This is a perfect word for Chinese history. The famous beauties such as Bao Si who ruined Xia dynasty and Daji who brought the chaos to Shang dynasty.
Yam Yeung-tien played by Valerie Chow. In fact, her drama of love and hate is the kernel of the story. She is the actual heroine. Kam Ling-tze is rather a sub-character.
Valerie is 26 years old in this film. She left the entertainment world in 2003 and married with a famous Indian Interior designer three years later.
Wong Jing related films
I saw Valerie Chow initially in High Risk. She is sexy. Especially, her legs are fascinating. The director Wong Jing knows well about the actress though he knows the best about Chingmy Yau.
I saw also Street Angels starred by Chingmy Yau. It’s my favourite. Valerie is almost a special appearance. She does nothing special.
We can see various attitudes of the filmmakers in the year 1997. For example, Made in Hong Kong is prompting the introspection. Comrades: Almost a Love Story is claiming love to the people.
However, people must live a day. Analysing the reality is not the actual solution. As long as love exists there will be hatred.
I prefer Ma Wing-jing the most because they never lost "Guts". This film is "powerfully" protesting against the communism. Never surrender, that’s the most important thing. This is the best film of Corey Yuen as I know.
The theme song
If Kam Ling-tze existed in real, she can be like Anita Mui. The title of the closing theme song 抱緊眼前人 means "Hold tight a person in front of you". The song implies that Hong Kong holds the democracy against the communism.
For Mainland people, this film and this song would claim that they must not forget their "Hero" who had been carrying out justice.