Cursed with a misleading English title and a narrative flaw or two, this remarkably little known 1979 Hong Kong comic action fest is nevertheless an absolute must for serious martial arts fans and a treat for the rest of us. The young Gordon Liu (cruel tutor Pei-Mei from “Kill Bill: Volume 2”) stars as Ah To, a young man in an arranged marriage with the pretty Kung Zi (Yuzo Mizuno), recently returned from her native Japan. After some initial fretting, the two prove more than compatible. Actually, it turns out they may have a little too much in common — they are both martial arts experts and excessively proud proponents of their respective nation’s martial arts styles. Though frequently compared to “The Taming of the Shrew,” the first hour plays more like an early sixties sex comedy, only with comic physical jabs replacing the verbal sparring.

Early on, the action is nearly dominated by the spunky, hyper-talented Yuzo Mizuno — think a young Shirley MacLaine as a comically destructive martial arts virtuoso. Still, “Heroes” ultimately turns out to be Gordon Liu’s show, and quite a show it is as the reluctant Ah To must face a herd of angry Japanese martial artists who have come to defend their nation’s honor. Martial arts trained director Lau Kar-Leung’s good natured action rom-com – something of a (biased) plea for mutual respect between the Chinese and Japanese peoples – turns into a more traditional series of increasingly stunning action set pieces that concludes with a real bang as Ah To at last faces his romantic rival, a treacherous ninja (Kurata Yasuaki) who throws the ninjitsu book at our hero. It’s a stunning conclusion to a real whiz-bang of a late period Shaw Brothers martial arts extravaganza. Also, with relatively little in the way of anything like serious violence (for the most part the characters aren’t really trying to hurt each other) and only some very mild sexual innuendo, “Heroes of the East” is also appropriate for younger martial arts fans.

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