Honk Kong cinema was on fire in the 1970’s, and kung-fu films were the main reason for its boom. The team of director Chang Cheh and actors David Chiang and Ti Lung – collectively known as “The Iron Triangle” led the field.
In The Heroic Ones, it is the late 9th-century imperial China and the Tang dynasty court no longer had effective control of its empire. The national capital Chang’an was sacked by Huang Chao’s anti-government army. Chiang and Lung play brothers – adoptive sons of a local warlord, Li Keyong, a Shatuo chieftain loyal to the Tang cause, whose rule is being threatened by rebel incursions.
Li Keyong leads his 13 generals—made up of all his adopted sons (including Chiang and Lung)— who help expel Huang from Chang’an, although a rift between some of them became more and more apparent in the process. Following the victory, Li Keyong accepted an invitation for a banquet at military governor Zhu Wen’s territory of Bianliang, unaware that it was a trap to assassinate him.
There is a traitor in the family and a family bitterly divided, it is down to the brothers Chiang and Lung to find the traitor and reunite the family.