Fortitude or Man-God? – Chinese Hercules (1973)

If you tuned into this movie or purchased in the hopes of seeing a Chinese Hercules, you will probably be disappointed.  There is nary a Hercules in sight, nor is there any bastardization of the Greek legends surrounding the hero present in any manner.  Yes, there are Chinese actors including leading man Wai-Man Chan and the muscle man out to stop him played by Yang Sze, better known worldwide as Bolo Yeung – but no Hercules.  You have to believe that the makers of this film were then referring to the incredible strength shown by the two actors in the movie, instead not intending to have the man-god appear but to allude to his renowned fortitude.  So, putting aside all thoughts of Hercules, what you end up with is the story of a man who feels shamed by his actions, goes into exile to chinese-hercules-15live a quiet life as a dockworker, but fate of course, would have other plans.

Chinese Hercules is your classic Kung Fu-actioner filled with a ton of sound effects, bad dubbing and a lot of action.  While some of the translation might be lost, the script is not all that bad and the story is one that might be a little cliché, but is enjoyable nonetheless.  Once the film starts, it is hard not to be sucked right into it as Wai-Man Chan who plays Shen Wei Ta is being picked on by his fiancé’s brother.  The movie really picks up when Shen decides to fight back and in doing so, accidentally kills the man.  Though the action takes a backseat for a little while, the pace never really slows down all that much and you find yourself engrossed in what is happening, wondering just where it is all leading to.  There is a point where you realize with the story being one about a fallen hero and his journey, at least of a sorts, that there is going to be a point where he chinese-hercules-12must fight back not only against the bad guys, but against himself and his guilt so that he might reclaim his life.

Chan is fantastic and it is a little strange that all of the movie posters promote Yeung over him.  True, Yeung/Sze was really coming into his own at the time, especially after starring with Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon, but Chan was the lead as is plainly evident.  There are quite a few fight scenes and both men give incredible performances, the choreography being quite exceptional at times.  The only downside to all of it is that Yeung should have been in the picture from the start instead of coming into it only during the latter half.  Really, you could hardly ask for more out of this picture other than maybe a little more originality.  As it is though, Chinese Hercules entertained thoroughly and despite any faults that might be found and although there was a complete lack of Hercules, it is a movie that can be easily watched on multiple occasions.

3.5 out of 5

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