Last Hurrah for Chivalry, despite its cheesy English title, is important for two things: One, it broke new ground in period martial-arts films by its use of contemporary language and attitudes; two, it introduces many quintessential John Woo stylistic conceits, thematic elements, and cinematic devices.
The anachronistic speech patterns and occasionally bad humour are not to everybody's taste. However, what it does achieve for the film is a sense of intimacy for the characters missing from Woo's previous films, such as Hand of Death. The use of the Cantonese language brings Last Hurrah for Chivalry down to an earthy level, allowing the actors to loosen up. In the case of Wei Pai and Liu Sung Yen, this is really a good thing, freeing them up to express their characters better.
Woo's signatures begin to emerge very clearly in this film. The characters of Cheung the Third and Green Robe are really precursors to character pairings in later Woo films such as Jeff and Eagle Lee (The Killer), Potcake and Jim (Once a Thief), and most important, Ho and Mark/Ken from the A Better Tomorrow series. Just the interplay between Wei and Liu along is worth the whole film, Wei's earnest naivete and Liu's engrossing mix of drunken clowning and deadly silence making for some of the best character interactions in the Woo oeuvre, rivalling that of Chow Yun-fat and Ti Lung in A Better Tomorrow. The over-the-top sound design and hair-raising fight choreography give the fight sequences a real sense of danger, while the themes of honour, betrayal, despair and fate are lifted intact and incorporated into the Killer, right down the the ending.
In fact, the only fault of this film is its moments of crude humour, usually thanks to bad bit players (eg. the henchmen of the villain Bai Zhong Tang). Still, Last Hurrah for Chivalry is one of Woo's best early films.