The Hero (1972)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2005-09-06
Parts of a few decent movies are embedded in “The Hero” (or “The Rage of the Master”) but none of them are sufficiently developed to amount to much.

The last half hour—actually a bit more, from 57 minutes to just over one hour 29 minutes—is several fight scenes slapped together with almost no transition other than those in involved in the various battles. The sequence begins in a boxing ring, with two Thai boxers giving a demonstration of their skill. The winner then challenges those gathered to fight. Several do, each using a different type of kung fu—each fight ends with the death of the challenger. The scene shifts immediately to the home of Tiger Wong’s mother. She has been harboring Miss Fung and Fung Li, the daughter and son of a slain kung fu master. Old Mrs. Wong is very ill, all but bedridden and, as it turns out, quite the fighter herself. A band of thugs, sent by the villain who killed the senior Fung attacks the house. She kills the first one through the door with a pair of scissors hurled from across the room. She then uses her cane as a lethal short pole against other attackers. The Fung kids arrive with their servant and the four of them put up a valiant but ultimately doomed fight against overwhelming odds. When it looks as if they might be victorious Nai Mi, an extremely deadly individual, intervenes. Despite their heroic defense all four are killed.

After a very short interlude in which Tiger Wong, who has left to get medicine for his mother, finds the bodies, Wong arrives at Nai Mi’s headquarters. He literally cuts his way through the entire gang, killing about 30 of them with thrusts and slashes of his two knives after uttering the immortal line “You killed my mother, now you will pay with your blood.”. To the extent that a knife fight can be boring, this one is. Finally confronting Nai Mi, Tiger kills him and chops his head off, telling Mi’s confederate that he will place the head on his mother’s grave, then return to finish off him and his Thai boxers. That confrontation occurs on the beach with four more added to the body count. This entire sequence started with the Thai boxers killing Chinese challengers and finishes with the boxers being killed by Wong.

The only really interesting aspect of the fight choreography and editing is the occasional use of extreme close-ups during the battles—although, given the dreadful panned and scanned treatment on this disc, they may have been more extreme than in the theater. The close-ups did add something a bit different to the otherwise pedestrian action scenes.

The scenes earlier between Tiger Wong and his mother were like something out of Eugene O’Neill on a very bad day. They live in a small house in a rural area. Tiger spends his time doing things like splitting firewood with his hands since, as his mother constantly reminds him, his father’s dying wish was for him to abandon his martial arts training and do only manual labor. It is a very odd relationship and could have been the basis for a Chinese gothic horror story.

There is absolutely no character development—at one point Chow Chang and his father perform an astonishing act of self sacrifice but it isn’t very moving because the audience hasn’t been given much reason to care about them. The editing is quite choppy and the aspect ratio changes a number of times. As has been mentioned the dubbing is atrocious and the words put in the mouths of the characters are often ridiculous. A typical example is when one of the Thai boxers attacks Tiger Wong saying “Let me show you me thunder kick,” and then spends the rest of the fight throwing punches.

The only reason to own this disc is if you simply must have the entire works of Jimmy Wang Yu. Not recommended for any other reason. I got it as part of a four movie set for five dollars at Media Play so I didn't really overpay for it.

Reviewer Score: 3