The Anonymous Heroes: ””But the other three, we don’t even know their names.”

Year: 1971
Directed by Chang Cheh
Produced by
Written by Ni Kuang
Cast: David Chiang, Ti Lung, Ching Li, Ku Feng, Cheng Miu, Tang Ti, Yeung Chi-Hing, and Wong Ching-Ho
A hopeful revolutionary enlists the support a trio of troublemakers to track down a cache of weapons for his cause.

To the uninformed observer, Chang Cheh’s films might not stand out from the pack. His films just are vain repetitions of one another. Which is a disservice to his abilities as a director. The Anonymous Heroes does stand out from the pack by its early 20th century setting. Chang Cheh does inject his trademark flavor of heroic bravado. A style of action and overtone that’s befitting of the central heist plot which has the necessary build-up and the villains’ intentions are well established as well. The dynamics between the heroes has its necessary development too before the heist commences.

The film could have easily just jumped to the heist but the slower pace allows the plot to be tighter and not to so depended on its action for tension but more on its characters. The David Chiang and Ti Lung’s bromance has driven many of Chang Cheh’s pictures and it is no less weaker here! Their characters express the right amount of bravado and glee to be great swashbucklers. Their female companion is a no weak link either. She is hardly a forced tag along either since she proves to be an indispensable part of their plans. The sequences of action is quite intense and not undercut by an overindulgent slapstick.

The heist itself is a thrilling espionage for its clever infusion of a hostage situation and creative ploys. Chang Cheh does pull from westerns( the train chase being the most famous example) to strengthen the swashbuckling range of the film. The melodrama isn’t as overt as Chang Cheh’s other works. Yet,the Anonymous Heroes never loses sight of Chang Cheh’s melodramatic cinematic spirit of finding personal honor through bloodshed. The implications of a larger war remind us that this swashbuckling adventure has a higher purpose behind it. In the conclusion of the film, the trio validate themselves as more than simple thrill-seekers.

The Anonymous Heroes is a simple thrilling seeking adventure story that retains Change Cheh’s melodramatic flair and glorious depiction of violence with a slight wartime edge.

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