Tag Archive: Hidden Fortress


Review by C.J. Bunce

Despite living in an international economy with the ability to communicate via portable devices with literally anyone on the planet, it’s a shame that the exchange of culture between the Western world and China is still stuck in the 20th century.  We only just saw an English translation of one of the best, most widely read, epic fantasy novels from China this year with the release of A Hero Born (reviewed here at borg), only the first book in author Jin Yong’s 1950s wuxia novel series.  The books have been adapted and interpreted over the past 70 years into dozens of films, TV series, and spin-offs.  But until recently they have only been available in China, or for those outside of China who have taken efforts to seek them out.  A Hero Born is only the first of twelve novels in the saga The Legend of the Condor Heroes Even without global circulation the series has influenced countless other stories, including so many elements of George Lucas’s Star Wars saga audiences will lose track of all the common elements.  If you think Lucas based his story only on the works of Akira Kurosawa’s films from Japan, think again–there’s as much Condor Heroes in Star Wars’s galaxy as Hidden Fortress. 

The most recent adaptation of the The Legend of the Condor Heroes story can be found in a 2017 series, starring well-known actors in China.  It’s only available if you’re willing to pick up an international DVD player, or you track it down on YouTube (both available in subtitled English editions).  But if you watch it–a whopping 52 incredible hour-long format episodes, you’re in store for one of the finest, most exciting genre series you’ve ever seen.  The quality of the production, the incredible martial arts work and visual effects, and top quality acting is prompting us to add this series to our own “Best of 2019” review coming later this month.  Sure, it’s two years since it came out in China, but there is no U.S. distribution channel.  Ideally Netflix would pick it up as they did for this year’s Korean series, Kingdom.  Two pregnant women escape an early 13th century conflict as their husbands, sworn brothers in spirit, are killed.  Their sons grow up separately, unaware of each other.  Guo Jing is honest, loyal and righteous, but slow to learn socially, and more importantly in the ways of the martial arts.  The other, Yang Kang, is clever and suave, but scheming and treacherous. They eventually meet each other and their respective lovers, Huang Rong and Mu Nianci.

Directed by Jiang Jiajun (also known as Jeffrey Chiang), the series follows Guo Jing, raised as Song and living on a rural farm with his mother.  He soon saves a man, a warrior in conflict with a general who will rise to become history’s Genghis Khan, and in doing so he is trained in bow and arrow in Khan’s legion.  Soon he is also taken on by seven martial arts masters in the techniques of kung fu, but they train him for a reason he is not aware of.  They made a wager at the boy’s birth with another martial arts master, a man who agreed to train the other boy, Yang Kang.  On the boys’ 18th birthday they are to meet at a restaurant where they will compete–the winner will determine who wins:  Jing’s seven masters or Kang’s master.  Unfortunately, Jing is awkward at basic moves including skywalking, while the other boy takes to kung fu very well.  But circumstances favor Jing, and others come along to fill in the blanks so that he can make a good showing when he turns 18, form a bond with friend and lover Rong, and go on to meet the Five Greats and compete in a mountain contest at the highest level.

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Rogue One gif image

In Return of the Jedi, Mon Mothma told us many Bothans died to deliver information on the weaknesses of the second Death Star.  In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a former stormtrooper figured out how to take out the third galactic Navarone-inspired superfortress in a matter of minutes.  But how did the Rebellion find the plans to the original Death Star–the plans Princess Leia handed off to R2-D2 in Star Wars: A New Hope, which she later recovered thanks to a rescue by Luke, Han, Chewie, Ben, and C-3PO?

In the first trailer released today for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the global fan base is introduced to Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones), following in the steps of Daisy Ridley’s young female lead Rey from Star Wars: A Force Awakens last year.  With scenes that remind us of recent Star Wars MMPORGs (that’s massively multiplayer online role-playing game for those not in the know), the newest Star Wars entry takes us to the darker corners of the galaxy, into the process of creating a saboteur capable of destroying an entire planet.

Death Star in progress GIF

Plenty of coolness can be found here, from what appears to be a samurai warrior (Donnie Yen) to a Grand Admiral Thrawn-garbed fellow (Ben Mendelsohn), to a return to the Yavin IV hidden Rebel base, more AT-ATs, palm trees, a new dark stormtrooper variant, Genevieve O’Reilly (who played the young Mon Mothma in Revenge of the Sith), is back again, Forest Whitaker is a new bounty hunter, and is that Darth Vader going to meet with the Emperor?  Oh, yeah, and a rebel gal in a TIE Fighter pilot suit.  Count us in.

Check out this first trailer for the next big Star Wars flick:

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Mike Mayhew The Star Wars panel 4

First it was Mike Mayhew and Star Trek and Doctor Who.
Then it was Mike Mayhew and Green Arrow.
Then it was Mike Mayhew and The Bionic Man and The Bionic Woman.
Now it’s Mike Mayhew and Star Wars.

Isn’t it great when the stars align and the people creating new entertainment are in sync with your view of the world?  Like taking your all-time favorite genre franchise and mixing it with your current favorite artist?

To quote Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “This is just… neat.”

The comic book licensee to the Star Wars universe, Dark Horse Comics has announced one of the coolest ideas you could put together.  Go back to George Lucas’s original take on Star Wars–before the edits and revisions and treatments and full-blown screenplays. Take that original story and re-imagine the Star Wars universe as if the original vision was Star Wars.  That’s exactly what long-time Lucasfilm executive editor J.W. Rinzler and current The Bionic Man cover artist Mike Mayhew have up their sleeves.  Coming in September 2013 is an eight-issue mini-series, titled The Star Wars, the title of Lucas’s 1974 version of the Star Wars saga.

Mike Mayhew The Star Wars panel 3

The images above and below are Mike Mayhew’s first released panel art from The Star Wars.

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McQueen The Blob

Cancel your weekend plans. Hulu.com is letting anyone in the U.S. watch their Criterion Collection of films now through Monday, February 18 at this linkFree.  I’ve just watched the first 20 minutes of Akira Kurasawa’s Seven Samurai for the umpteenth time.  The only limitation is how many movies you can watch in the next 72 hours.

The selection includes all the big Criterion films you would expect.  You can watch Kurasawa’s Hidden Fortress, which along with Seven Samurai, were two of George Lucas’s major influences for Star Wars.  There’s also Kurasawa’s Rashomon, Sanjuro, Yojimbo, Throne of Blood, Stray Dog, Scandal, Drunken Angel… The list goes on.  And if classic Japanese Samurai films aren’t your thing, you might try what we at borg.com listed as the number one Western of all time in our top 10 list back in 2011–John Ford’s 1939 classic Stagecoach.  Or try something totally different, Steve McQueen in The Blob?  Or a comedy–Walter Matthau in Hopscotch?

Hidden Fortress

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