A MAN CALLED HERO
(Zhong Hua Ying Xiong)
A Man Called Hero is probably more ambitious than it is entirely successful. You have to admire Andrew Lau for that. Lau chooses a very complex story, one that cuts back and forth between two eras following father and son in their mutual quests, which is not always easy to follow in subtitles. Uniquely, A Man Called Hero also becomes the first Wu Xia film to explore the substantial and cinematically unexplored territory of US Chinese immigrancy an area that may well become a new crossover territory following the explosion of Hong Kong fantasy in the West with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). The film here is particularly good at integrating stock footage and some beautifully authentic seeming and elaborate outdoor sets to recreate a period Chinatown.
Moreover, it is 50 minutes in before Andrew Lau comes to any fantasy elements at all you might not be mistaken in thinking that A Man Called Hero is a Wu Xia with pretensions toward being an historical drama. Certainly when the fantasy elements do eventually enter, Lau creates some wild and unique visions combatants whipping up whirlwinds of rainwater and walls of paving stones from the street; a superpowered battle atop the Statue of Liberty that prefigures X-Men (2000); and in particular, the unique character of Shadow who blurs in and out and moves by bouncing between walls like a grasshopper. Andrew Lau is one of the few Hong Kong directors to have confidently blended CGI effects with the Wu Xia cycle. Although for all its successes, A Man Called Hero is also seems confusedly caught between trying to be an historical romance and taking full flight as a Wu Xia.
Andrew Laus other genre films include Ultimate Vampire (1991), the ghost story Ghost Lantern/Skinned Girl (1992), the Wu Xia The Duel (2000), the superhero film The Avenging Fist/Legend of Tekken (2001), the alien invasion film Wesleys Mysterious File (2002), the supernatural comedy Women from Mars (2002), the horror film The Park (2003) and the martial arts superhero film Legend of the Fist (2010).
Trailer here (no subs):-