As promised, here is the second figure in Dragon Models’ A Man Called Hero collection, Phantom Servant. Also known by such names as Ghost Servant, Ghost Server (sounds like a scary waiter), and Shadow (played by Dion Lam and voiced by Jordan Chan) in the 1999 Andrew Lau film, the character serves (get it?) as a trusted ally of the comic book’s main protagonist, Hero Hua Ying-Hung. Setting him apart from the pack is Phantom Servant’s curious appearance, as he is distinguished by a) his complete lack of arms and b) a horribly disfigured Phantom of the Opera-style mug. Sadly, I don’t own this figure, but you can check out pictures of this curious 12-inch figure just under the cut.
Can you tell I’m a fan of A Man Called Hero? While I know there’s a lot of new and interesting toys on the market, this regular column will also be dedicated to the various Hong Kong cinema-related action figures I own, and — for good or for ill — a large portion of those toys include characters featured in A Man Called Hero and Storm Riders.
From what I can gather, Dragon Models, Ltd. created this now decommissioned figure of Hero Hua Ying-Hung sometime around 1999, which you can find listed under the name of “A Man Called Hero,” “Chinese Hero,” and even “Oriental Hero.” I own the figure pictured on the right, which is based on Ma Wing-Shing’s popular comic book, but apparently there were at least three more versions of the figure created. One looks exactly like mine, except with a different hair color and costume (pictured below). The other two share a dramatically different head sculpt.
In conjunction with the 1999 movie A Man Called Hero, Dragon Models released two editions of the figure that bore the likeness of the film’s star, Ekin Cheng — an “old version” dressed in the same black wardrobe as the one I own and a “young” Ekin dressed in a brown-colored costume. From what I’ve seen, the box for both the comic and movie versions of Hero Hua appear practically identical. Too bad a scale version of the Statue of Liberty playset was unavailable for purchase.
Many moons ago, I received two statues in the mail from my family in Singapore — Wind, one of the main characters from Ma Wing-Shing’s popular comic book, Storm Riders, and Hero Hua, the protagonist of Ma’s earlier manhua hit, Chinese Hero (aka: A Man Called Hero, The Blood Sword). Both characters have a Hong Kong movie connection as they were each famously portrayed by Ekin Cheng in the respective film adaptations.
Dubbed “Chinese Hero: Tales of the Blood Sword,” this line of particularly figures based on the popular comic book also includes Invincible (played by Francis Ng in A Man Called Hero) and Ghost Servant (a masked Jordan Chan). I don’t know the particulars, but they seem to be either re-issue or simply old stock of a previously existing line. I know because I bought Ghost Servant in Singapore several years earlier, and he came in an identical box as the one pictured here.
When the figure arrived, I got quite a shock when I discovered it was SPLIT IN TWO PIECES! Luckily, it wasn’t broken, but I did have quite a time trying to force the two parts back together. Thanks to a handy pair of pliers and some good old fashioned elbow grease, I was able to make the Man Called Hero whole once more, and all without breaking the figure in the process.
That shock was almost as bad as when I discovered that Ghost Servant didn’t have any arms. For those of you who don’t know, the character actually is armless in the comic and the movie, a small fact that somehow eluded my attention prior to purchase. There’s not much “action” to be had from a figure with missing appendages, but hey, that’s the character.
Hero (aka Hua Ying-Hung/aka Ekin Cheng) isn’t a bad figure. Meant to resemble the comic character, the face is well-sculpted, if a little roughly painted. There’s not much “action” to him either, although he is poseable. Hero comes with the Blood Sword, a scabbard, and a hat he can wear at a rakish angle whenever he feels like crooning a Sinatra tune.
I never got around to buying Invincible to complete the set, but if I do, you’ll be the first to know. In the coming year, stay tuned to this space for more Hong Kong cinema-related action figures.
If you want a closer look at the figure, click on the thumbnails below to enlarge the pictures. Obviously, I’m a terrible toy photographer, but I promise I’ll improve as this irregularly updated column develops.
For some of you, July 4th marks the anniversary of the day Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Pullman saved Planet Earth from a horde of Martian invaders. For Americans, however, it’s a holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. We also like to set off fireworks.
Fun fact: The Chinese invented firecrackers.
Now, I don’t think it’s too much of a generalization to say that Americans of my generation and earlier were given a largely whitewashed version of history when we were students. That was most certainly the case in elementary school (how many myths about George Washington were presented as fact?), and for those who didn’t have really good history teachers in junior high and high school, they probably didn’t get the whole unvarnished truth until college, if at all.
As an academic, I feel it is my responsibility to shed light on these darkened corners of our own history. The Glenn Becks, the Bill O’Reillys, and the Ann Coulters of the world may cling to a distorted version of our own country’s past, resorting to juvenile name-calling and vicious attacks when anyone dare paint the United States in an unflattering light.
Invincible: Where’s he going with this?
Hero Hua: I don’t know.
We, too, may not wish to look too deeply into our nation’s past for fear of what we might find, but as responsible citizens we must endeavor to search out the facts wherever they may lead. And so, on this Fourth of July, 2010, I present a Hong Kong film that attempted to rectify a typical US history book omission. Do you remember reading ANYTHING about a well-coiffed Chinese laborer having a swordfight with a blind Japanese guy on top of the Statue of Liberty…before obliterating Lady Liberty herself in the process? I didn’t think so.
I guess that goes a long way in explaining the Chinese Exclusion Act.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your super-powered martial artists…”