9 January 2008 | Mozjoukine
Sino-Japanese War movie is early King Hu.
If it wasn't the first major film of the director of TOUCH OF ZEN and the rest, this would be a forgettable war movie, importing the clichés of Hollywood into the Hong Kong scene.
There are few faces familiar from the major Shaw Brothers movies and only the wide spaced pieces of local colour to suggest King Hu's participation. It's rather short on barbarous atrocities too - one wagon load of grass mat wrapped beheaded bodies and a lecherous commander.
That said, the pacing is good and the scope screen is always filling with movement and detail, which distract from the unconvincing story line. The big action finale manages to produce a few authentic WW2 automatic weapons and the makers do confront the implausibility of a peasant militia with hand guns taking on well armed troops.
I've seen worse.