Heroes on Fire (2000)

The film business is a funny thing. Success at the box office is an elusive prize. Producers and film exhibiters will try to latch on to a successful film by any means possible. Kant Leung Wang-Fat's Heroes on Fire (2000) is a PRC production that has been renamed for release in the rest of the world to capitalize on the incredibly successful, Academy Award winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Leung's film, of course, is nothing remotely close to Ang Lee's work: not genre, style, time period, or subject matter. There's neither dragon nor tiger.

Heroes on Fire tells the story of a Dr. Wai or Indiana Jones type who is out to protect and recover Chinese antiques that have been stolen to be sold to foreign interests. Screenplay by Yeung Yuk-Kei tries to cram in to much information about his characters that causes confusion in the viewer's eye. It takes about an hour to sort out what's going on, but by that time it's hard to care. Leung's direction doesn't help much. Anthony Wong Chau-Sang stars as Chiang Chin, an adventurer who wears an Indiana Jones hat and vest while carrying a whip and a gun. Chiang is a righteous guy who is out to make a couple of dollars and romance some women along the way.

Action Direction by Lung Sang is disappointing. Heroes on Fire features Ngai Sing and Billy Chow Bei-Lei in supporting roles. Both give workman-like performances, but their skills are under-utilized. Wire work in this film is just outright laughable while over scenes utilize quick cutting and bad whooshing sound effects. While this movie tries to capture the spirit of the Indiana Jones films and Tony Ching Siu-Tung's The Scripture with No Words (1996), production values are low. Director Leung started his career showing great promise but he seems in over his head on this project.

Copyright © 2007 John Crawford. All rights reserved.