Eight Hundred Heroes (1975)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2005-11-27
Summary: A bit transparent and unrealistic...
Eight Hundred Heroes is an incredibly nationalistic film (almost to the point of propaganda) that tells the story of the fall of Shanghai to the Japanese in 1937 and the subsequent underground resistance. One of the leaders of that resistance, Chin Yuan (O Chun-Hung) rises through the ranks with a series of successful raids until he commands a battalion. As the Japanese push through the city, he finds himself as the leader of 800 men holed up in an abandoned warehouse at the edge of the British and American controlled territory. He decides to make his final stand there, against the public wishes of the Shanghainese leadership but to the joy of the Shanghai citizens. He is aided by Yang Hui Min (Brigitte Lin), an ambitious and brave Girl Scout leader who gives up her safety in order to help the men in the warehouse.

Although the plot could have been an interesting one, the film gets bogged down in its nationalistic rhetoric and endless battle scenes. The Taiwanese are all honorable, brave, self-sacrificing heroes while the Japanese are conniving and treacherous. There are unrealistic scenes that seem to simply be included to portray this view, such as when Yang swims across a river, being cheered on by citizens as the Japanese try to shoot her from rooftops. It's a very surreal and strange scene which is similarly repeated at the end of the movie as well. In addition, Chin Yuan and his friends never have any qualms with sacrificing their lives and their families for the good of the city and Taiwan. They don't give a second thought to their sacrifice even after receiving heart-breaking phone calls from their wives asking them to come back. Although this may be admirable, it seems hardly realistic.

If you watch this movie with the realization that you are essentially viewing propaganda, it is bearable. However, with endless shooting, explosions and unrealistic self-sacrifice it may become exhausting quite quickly.

6/10
Reviewer Score: 6