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Historical Epic Meets Raw Emotional Force

The Valiant Ones (Zhong lie tu)


Genre: Action, Drama, History
Year Released: 1975, 2024 Masters of Cinema 4K/Blu-ray
Runtime: 1h 46m
Director(s): King Hu
Writer(s): King Hu
Cast: Hsu Feng, Pai Ying, Roy Chiao, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Han Ying-Chieh, Lee Man-Tai, Hao Li-Jen, Yuen Siu-Tien, Mars, Yuen Wah, Wu Chia-Hsiang, Tao Wei, Lau Kong
Where To Watch: available June 11, 2024, pre-order here UK, US, US, or US

RAVING REVIEW: THE VALIANT ONES, directed by King Hu, marks a pivotal moment in martial arts films, transitioning from the fantastical realms of wuxia to more realistic, grounded action pieces. Set against the backdrop of the 16th-century Ming Dynasty, this film not only revisits a historically turbulent era but also enriches it with a tale of courage and heart.

Roy Chiao, Pai Ying, and Hsu Feng deliver captivating performances as they combat the pirate menace led by Sammo Hung's formidable character, Hakatatsu. The actors bring depth to their roles, presenting a narrative steeped in courage and strategy that hooks the audience from the start. The chemistry among the cast adds a layer of authenticity and intensity to the unfolding drama, making every scene mean something to the larger arc.

King Hu's directorial approach transforms the expansive landscapes of China into a battleground where strategy and might clash. The juxtaposition of vast outdoor scenes against the more claustrophobic interiors highlights Hu's adept handling of space and pacing. Sammo Hung’s choreography shines, blending authenticity with innovation to create combat sequences that are as much about the physical action as they are about the strategic minds behind them.

THE VALIANT ONES delves into the deeper themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and the resilience of the human spirit, transcending mere action to probe the philosophical underpinnings of its characters' motivations. This exploration enriches the narrative, providing a multi-layered viewing experience that challenges the mind while exciting the senses.

From a technical standpoint, the film is a masterpiece of visual storytelling. With Eureka’s stunning 4K restoration, the film looks like you’ve stepped into this world with the cast. Hu's use of dynamic camera movements—including swift panning and immersive tracking—draws viewers directly into the heart of the action.

THE VALIANT ONES has found new life through its restoration. This revival highlights the intricate details and rich textures of the film’s setting, allowing new audiences to fully appreciate its artistic depth and craftsmanship.

The film builds to a climactic finale that blends strategy and pacing with emotion. The final confrontation, captured in a memorable moment, stopped in time, perfectly embodies the film’s dual focus on its depth and personal sacrifice, leaving a lasting impact on the viewer.

THE VALIANT ONES is a significant work in the martial arts genre by one of its greatest directors. It offers a fresh perspective on its characters' capabilities and complexities. Its re-release secures its place in cinema history and ensures it garners the recognition it deserves. The film's narrative and stunning visuals make it a must-see for fans and newcomers to the genre alike.

Bonus Materials
Limited edition O-card slipcase featuring new artwork by Grégory Sacré (Gokaiju) (First Pressing Only)
4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentation, presented in Dolby Vision HDR from a 4K digital restoration of the original negatives gifted by director King Hu to the Hong Kong Film Archive
Uncompressed original Mandarin mono restored from the original soundtrack negative
Optional English subtitles newly translated for this release
Brand new audio commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival)
Tony Rayns on The Valiant Ones – Brand new interview with critic and Asian film expert Tony Rayns
Brand new video essay by David Cairns
The Life of a Lucky Stuntman – Brand new interview with stuntman Billy Chan
My Father and I – A brand new interview with actor Ng Ming-choi
Archival 2003 interview with actress Hsu Feng by Frédéric Ambroisine
Archival 2003 interview with Roger Garcia (Hong Kong International Film Festival Society) by Frédéric Ambroisine
Archival 2016 interview with actor Ng Ming-choi by Frédéric Ambroisine
Limited Edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jonathan Clements (First Pressing Only)

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Chris Jones
Entertainment Editor

Chris Jones is the Mail Entertainment Editor covering Movies and Television topics. He is from Washington, Illinois, and is the owner, writer, and editor of Overly Honest Reviews.