A Man Called Hero | Chicago Reader

A Man Called Hero

Buried under the glossy charm and empty-headed exhilaration of this Hong Kong martial-arts fantasy (1999) is a fairly intriguing story of Chinese immigrants to America in the early 1900s. Pop star Ekin Cheng delivers a typically stolid performance as a kung fu apprentice with supernatural powers who kills a white merchant responsible for his parents' murders and flees his native village for New York City, where he encounters a remarkably clean and uncrowded Chinatown and a harsh mining camp. The script, adapted from a popular comic book, touches on discrimination, exploitation, and ethnic solidarity, all common to immigrant dramas. Unfortunately, any serious intent is overwhelmed by melodrama, improbable plot twists, risible dialogue, and the baser instincts of director-cinematographer Andrew Lau (The Storm Riders), including xenophobia (white devils), sexual stereotyping (helpless women and effeminate gays), and fight scenes with computer-generated effects. With Jackie Chan sidekick Yuen Biao. 103 min.

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