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神偷燕子李三 (1996)
The Hero of Swallow

Reviewed by: sharkeysbar
Date: 06/14/2005
Summary: Action a plenty

I recently watched this movie again and I enjoyed it as much this time around, several years later. It has plenty of action, melodrama and a complicated story that twists and turns, everything you need in a period action movie. Yuen Biao plays the role of hero superbly and the supporting cast don't let him down either.
It is a real period piece, more reminiscient of late 1970s to early 1980s films, but it is a great thrilling ride, I can watch this again and will do so! Great fights throughout, 7/10.

Reviewed by:
Date: 08/24/2004
Summary: Rent Iron Monkey instead

If you liked "Iron Monkey 2", you'll *love* "Hero of Swallow".

Recommended for Yuen Biao completists. For the rest of us, here's a list of better films you could watch:

Knockabout, Dreadnaught, Rosa, The Iceman Cometh

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 02/23/2004
Summary: Not that bad

HERO OF SWALLOW seems to have taken a lot of knocks, and to be fair it's not exactly Golden Age HK Cinema (let alone Golden Age Yuen Biao), but it's not a bad little action packed B movie. The story is typically convoluted and melodramatic, with far too much going on for the time devoted to it (i.e. not spent fighting), but that's part of its charm. And there are a ton of fight scenes, which aren't the greatest but are certainly better than the stuff that passes for fight scenes these days.

Definitely a low grade film, but worth watching for a dose of that special HK action movie magic :)

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 12/07/2002

I wanted to like this movie, but it's not good at all. It's a movie after its time, reminiscient of the stuff made in the mid 80s.


Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 05/15/2002
Summary: okay Yuen Biao movie

This enjoyable old-school flavored and wire-fu powered martial arts movie stars the under-rated Yuen Biao as Thief Swallow, a Robin Hood-type character who steals from the rich as he searches for his girlfriend Chinny (Athena Chu), who was sold into prostitution. During his journey, he picks up a couple of sidekicks (Elvis Tsui and Lily Chung) which is good, since he is being chased by both a cop (Ma Chung Tak) and one of the last Ching officers (Eddy Ko Hung). It seems Eddy's boss is stealing Ching treasures and selling them to the Japanese, and wants to use Swallow as a patsy, so after being arrested Swallow must fight to clear his name and save the valubales.

Fitting for the reciprocal world of Hong Kong movies, Hero of Swallow borrows liberally from Iron Monkey, and seems to have provided at least some inspiration for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The results here, unfortunately, aren't as good as either of those movies. Early on, Hero of Swallow falls prey to heavy melodrama which tends to grind the pacing down. It's hard to really feel sympathy for characters you barely know, especially when the "touching" scenes are sandwiched between really exaggerated wire-fu antics and the usual badly-attempted slapstick comedy.

I always wonder why films like this go for those kinds of laughs; this is all the more puzzling here, since Yuen Biao has more than enough personality to make his performance enjoyable without resorting to cheap laughs. At any rate, Hero of Swallow seems to be stuck in-between being a comedy, a drama, and a action movie, without really gelling into a cohesive unit. The most obvious example of this comes at the end of the movie, which has a really downbeat turn that seems tacked on.

Still, Hero of Swallow remains a watchable film, mostly because of Yuen Biao's performance. The supporting cast (especially Elvis Tsui, who managed to stay clothed for this role) also does well, but it is Yuen who holds the movie together through its' schizophrenic pacings. The action is fairly exciting, though some of the wire effects looks cheap, and Yuen never really seems to find a formidable opponent to fight. But overall, it's not totally detrimental to the film. Hero of Swallow is just missing that little something, that little push that would turn it into a great movie instead of a good one -- but it's still worth a look if you're a Yuen Biao fan, or just enjoy some good old-fashioned wire-fu ass-kicking.

[review from]

Reviewed by: danton
Date: 01/03/2002

I bought this despite the underwhelming reviews I read, simply because I wanted to see what Yuen Biao was up to the last few years - and after watching this effort, he must be down on his luck...

The movie is a throwback to the chopsockies of old, but not a good one. The plot makes no sense and is full of holes. The cinematography is bad (most of the fights take place at night, and you can barely make out what's happening). The Martial Arts choreography is ok, but not spectacular.

The story is about an "Iron Monkey" type hero who is trying to rescue his lady love whilst fighting evil Japanese as well as post-Ching dynasty officials. I really wanted to like this movie, and forced myself to watch it to the end, but I just didn't like it. The fact that the DVD was of the worst quality certainly didn't help either (the Cantonese DD 2.1 sound mix is poorly done, and the burnt-in subtitles are hard to read).

Not recommended.