Heroes of the East (1978): 6 out of 10. I will be nice here. I know this Shaw Brothers picture is a favorite of some. If you enjoy seeing different martial arts styles going against each other in interesting and colorful ways. You are in for a treat. If you want a story with your fighting, you may be in for a long haul.
The basic plot is an arranged marriage between a nice Chinese martial artist (Yay) and a horrible Japanese bride (Boo.). It turns out the bride doesn’t follow any of the nice Chinese customs like a normal person but follows those weird Japanese customs (Boo). To make matters worse, she is a martial artist in her own right. But instead of doing good working class All-American Chinese martial arts (Yay) She does the sneaky, underhanded Japanese Martial Arts (Boo).
As one might surmise from the paragraph above, the movie is slightly weighted to the Chinese point of view. This weighting proves problematic, as the wife (played by Yuka Mizuno) is neither attractive enough nor has the personality to convince me that her husband would pursue her back to Japan after she beat him up and destroyed his family home.
Nevertheless, he sends a message asking her to come back to him, and they misinterpret it as a challenge to all of Japan’s top martial artists. (And really, who among us has not made that mistake? ) So we are then treated to some pretty good match-ups between Japanese and Chinese martial arts in everything from sword work to throwing stars.
I see Wikipedia gives the film credit for not making the Japanese the bad guys as was the norm in Hong Kong cinema. Okay… I assume they must grade on a curve. Wikipedia notes the fights are all honorable and without fatalities and that, I agree, is a pleasant change of pace. If the thought of seeing a Japanese Kusarigama vs. a Chinese Rope Dart or Japanese Crab-style vs. Chinese Fujian White Crane fills you with glee, this is a movie for you. If you are looking for an actual story, well, the premise may come across as a little thin.