Call of Heroes is a 2016 Blu-ray release courtesy of Well Go Entertainment. Writer and Just the Slips podcast contributor Rich has frequently gushed about Well Go to anyone with ears. I’ve only had a couple instances to watch some of their releases and let’s just say I was underwhelmed. Of course I don’t judge an entire company based on one or two or ten films that I really didn’t care much about. I tried to go into this film with a fresh perspective and judge it on it’s own merits.
The reason I was more confident about liking this release was twofold. First the crew of Call of Heroes are director Benny Chan and choreographer Sammo Hung. They have worked on some of my favorite Jackie Chan releases and are pretty entertaining. Secondly the trailer seemed to indicate a more traditional form of filming with reliance on real sets and stunts and less on CG (although it is still used).
Call of Heroes is about a wandering stranger who happens to run into a teacher and her school children trying to walk to a town. They are escaping the violent bad guys who are apparently pillaging Stone town. They eventually both show up at a village that has problems of it’s own. The first part of the film is pretty lighthearted and could be easily written off as another trope filled afternoon flick. That would be a mistake. The wire stunts, and fighting sequences are very well done. The turns that the story takes are interesting and makes you want to watch to see how it is all resolved. It is a very entertaining movie and made me feel nostalgia for other old school Asian films.
This classic old school feel is noticed right at the beginning of the film and slowly increased. Call of Heroes feels like a great lost Kung Fu movie. It has a very 60’s Western feel to it as well. The story line and characters play with those tropes of good guy vs bad guy and what makes up those characteristics. Granted we aren’t talking about a Akira Kurosawa depth of character study, but Call of Heroes is very entertaining. There are notes of humor, and seriousness. It’s about friendships, and loyalty and justice.
The fighting sequences and traditional wire work are outstanding in this film. However it’s not just a good action film as it is also nicely balanced in the story parts. You don’t get bored watching one part waiting for more to happen. There is a great mix of actors from different generations. The characters are very easy to distinguish and not just because of their costuming. They act and move distinctly and it’s a mark of the care and craftsmanship of this film.
The story takes place on an actual set that took 4 months to build. There is evidence of the care and chunk of budget taken to actually build a city and the props. This is how film making should be done! It’s funny to think that a breath of fresh air in cinema today is to go back and do what had to be done 30 years ago. It is very impressive to me and the attention to detail shined in the film. I feel that having real things on set shows up on screen. But more than that the intuitiveness of the actors play off of being in a real place with real objects.
That attention also caries over to the cinematography. This is a great looking movie in both the day and night time scenes. The color palate doesn’t have that overly vivid, fake look but a more natural one. There is a nice restraint to the tones and feel of the visuals. Some costumes are more muted but still there is a nice flair and distinction among the main characters. Things are not filmed flat but have a nice depth and detail to them. Digital is still not as epic as photographic film to my tastes but if more people shot things like this I might just forget about it.
The sound benefits from this attention to detail as well. Call of Heroes is subtitled from Cantonese and Mandarin (both DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) and everything sounds very crisp and clean. There is great dynamic range from background noises, to the lovely score, to the sound effects. During the fight sequences especially there are nice audio effects. The dialog is never overpowered and so vocal inflections and the actors performances shine even during fights.
Making Of – The special features are pretty minimal, there are a handful of “Making Of” featurettes that make up about 15 minutes in total and that’s it (unless you count a trailer as a special feature). I do think there is some quality information in some of the segments and behind the scenes footage but all it really does it whet your appetite for more. You are buying this release strictly because of the movie.
Trailer – I do suggest going into the film blind because the trailer gives away quite a bit but obviously you know what you like.
Call of Heroes Final Thoughts:
Call of Heroes is very entertaining. The action is great and the moral dilemmas with the characters are interesting. The heroes are real heroes and the villains are cackling scenery chewing baddies. I’d have to say that this is my favorite modern Asian action movie. I am very happy that Well Go USA released the film in my region so that I had a chance to experience it. I would love additional special features or even commentary but honestly that is just a small nitpick. The film itself is fun and if you like this kind of cinema I highly recommend you purchase a copy for your own collection here on Amazon.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.