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DADDY, FATHER & PAPA

(Hong Kong 1991) 

Original Title: Lao Dou Wu Pa Duo

Directed by Clifton Ko Produced by Raymond Wong, Clifton Ko, Simon Yip Action by Chris Lee Kin Sang Starring: Sammo Hung, Raymond Wong, Gabriel Wong, Teresa Mo, Liu Wai Hung, Tommy Wong Kwong Leung, Bin Bin, Paul Wong, Simon Yip, Teddy Yip, Vincent Kok, James Tien Reviewing: Fortune Star/Joy Sales HK VCD Release Genres: Comedy / Action / Drama

Rating - 3.3 / 5

VCD Synopsis: A seven-year-old Ben takes delight in getting into mischief. One day, his naughty ways lead him into serious trouble. A list of triad members has fallen into his hands and he is kidnapped by the notorious gangsters. Treating as one of his usual pranks, his dad is undisturbed by Ben's sudden disappearance and makes no attempts to trace his whereabouts. However, Ben is in hot pursuit of a policeman and a reporter, as they both believe Ben is their son. An amusing chase by the rescue party then begins... (98 Mins)

Views: This Hong Kong remake of Les Comperes is rarely talked about today by fans of the jaded screen, although not for any reason in particular. The film opens with cute child-actor Bin Bin, from classics such as Magic Crystal and A Book Of Heroes, in school and making a mockery of a bully classmate. Although often spoiled by his mother, he's an only-child that just wants to be loved by his over-powering father and often feels very lonely. He finds a bit of friendship with Pierre, a very flamboyant neighbour that likes to invent and work with robotic toys. After a bad report card comes home, Bin Bin is locked in his room by his dick of a dad, but soon escapes to find solace in a nearby park. While relaxing on a bench, Bin Bin witnesses some gangsters chasing down a man who, before taking his last breath, throws the kid a roll of film and tells him to run! As the victim is choked to death, Bin Bin escapes on his bike with the gangsters hot on his tail. During the chase, Bin Bin disposes of the roll by throwing it through Pierre's window before returning home to the wrath of his father and the gangsters hiding in his bedroom. With his room ransacked and Bin Bin gone, his mum decides to do whatever she can to get him back, including telling two previous boyfriends (one a policeman, one a reporter) that Bin Bin just might be theirs. As the rescue mission begins, things get a little out of hand that leads to many hilarious antics and fight-action in an attempt to get Bin Bin home safely!

The first thing that attracts you to Daddy, Father & Papa is it's fantastic cast. And while it may have a powerhouse martial artist like Sammo Hung headlining the film, this 1991 production does tend to focus more-so on the comedy side of things as oppose to the action. Sammo plays Hung (and why not), who has been convinced that he may be the father of Bin Bin due to a relationship he had with the child's mother many years ago. I've always loved Sammo in comedy roles as I think he pulls it off perfectly, and here he proves why over the course of many different situations. Ever popular comedy-actor and all-round film-maker, Raymond Wong, plays the other possible father to Bin Bin and a reporter with a crazy stroke of bad luck. Both characters are introduced back into her life via very different flashbacks (which is hilarious in itself) before they set out in search of their son. The woman in question is played by the fantastic Teresa Mo, who I just adore. From All's Well That Ends Well to Hard Boiled, Legend Of The Dragon to An Inspector Calls, Teresa never fails to entertain and continues to prove her worth as a comedy actress here. The hilarious Gabriel Wong stars as Pierre, the gay toymaker with high-blood pressure and trademark large glasses who always finds himself in the middle of their trouble. Liu Wai Hung plays Bin Bin's real father who is an abusive and loud-mouthed man that just cares about money. It's only when he realises that his role is questioned and his son is actually missing, do we start to see a change in his ways. Daddy, Father & Papa would prove to be Bin Bin's final role as a child actor, disappearing from the scene altogether for over 20 years before returning in 2015 for one final role in Sorry, Baby – a Chinese mainland comedy that also starred his own son, Little Bin. Kung-fu star and popular gangster actor James Tien plays Brother Ho, the triad boss who wants his negatives back no matter what. He is backed by the great Tommy Wong Kwong Leung and Paul Wong, who do the most of his dirty work – with Paul taking a liking to the young captive over the course of the story, and defecting from his boss in order to help Bin Bin.

Written by no less than 5 screenwriters, including Joe Ma and Vincent Kok, Daddy, Father & Papa is hardly the greatest film in the world but it does prove to be quite entertaining. Directed by Hong Kong film veteran and actor Clifton Ko, the man behind hits such as Happy Ghost, Chicken & Duck Talk, Gambling Ghost, and Esprit D'Amour, the film doesn't lag for a second but it certainly doesn't benefit from having so many writers behind it. The final 30 minutes sees things take a turn as the gangsters start to get a little more heavy handed with Bin Bin taken hostage once again, along with his real dad – and eventually, everyone else. It's here we get to see a bit more stunt work introduced that leads to a brief shoot-out, explosions, and exchange of punches underwater. It's hardly a career-defining moment for an action-legend such as Sammo Hung, but it fits with the overall tone of the film at the end of the day. I did find it strange however that while it may be shy of the hardcore martial arts we would have expected from a Hong Kong movie of this era (especially with Hung in the cast), those in charge would secure the services of someone like Chris Lee as their action-director. For anyone that doesn't know, Lee was one of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team members that ended up in a coma after the incredible double-decker bus stunt went wrong in Police Story. Apart from starring in many classics such as Project A, Eastern Condors, Miracles, In The Line Of Duty 3, and Full Contact, Lee was also behind the action in My Flying Wife, Burning Paradise, Project A 2, and Twin Dragons. He also took the reins of director on hits such as Queens High with Cynthia Khan,and Crystal Fortune Run with Cheung Man, who he would work with once again on Back For Your Life. But in Daddy, Father & Papa, he really didn't have much to do and the action could have quite easily been handled by Hung himself. Regardless, it still makes for an entertaining film that (while far from perfect) has plenty of funny moments that's backed by a great cast, who I always enjoy watching...

Overall: A feel good movie that may lack action, but still offers plenty of laughs and fun moments!

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DAGGERS 8

(Hong Kong 1980) 

Original Title: Kong Shou Ru Bai Ren

Directed by Wilson Tong, Cheung Sum Produced by Alex Gouw Action by Wilson Tong Starring: Wilson Tong, Meng Yuen Man, Lily Li, Peter Chan Lung, Cheng Kang Yeh, Alan Chui, Wong Yat Fei, Sai Gwa Pau, Cheung Sum, Yeung Wah, Billy Chan Reviewing: Amazon Prime UK Release Genres: Traditional Kung Fu / Drama

Rating - 4 / 5

Synopsis: Ching (Meng Yuen Man) is determined to become a kung-fu expert, yet each time he begins to train with a new master, they are mysteriously assassinated. Killer Bah (Wilson Tong) is a professional assassin whose use of the secret daggers makes him an unbeatable killing machine. Ching swears to avenge all his master's deaths and prepares by developing his skills to perfection.

Views: From Goldig Films and the fantastic Wilson Tong, comes Daggers 8 – a movie inspired by the likes of Drunken Master and Snake In The Eagles Shadow (like many before it), and packed with great moves and kung-fu battles, funny comedy, and a decent cast. The highly enjoyable Meng Yuen Man plays Ching, cheeky rich boy with great kung-fu. It's a role akin to that of Jackie's in Dragon Lord, with Ching even having a house assistant that tries to help him trick his grandfather with his studies. Ching's grandfather despises the fact that his youngest grandson only cares about kung-fu, and after his older brother turns up dead due to a fight, resorts to locking Ching up. It doesn't take long for Ching to escape and start his journey in finding a kung-fu master that will teach him...

The first comes in the shape of Peter Chan Lung, a restaurant owner who helps Ching when he gets into some bother protecting a girl from some horny men – one of which is Dragon Lord co-star, Cheng Kang Yeh. In a nearby village, assassin Wilson Tong turns up at a book store where he is pointed to a particular book that holds the contract for his next hit, which happens to be Ching's new master. Chan Lung soon meets his end when Tong arrives at the restaurant and attacks him. Later in the day, Ching arrives back to find his master murdered, and without knowing how or why continues on his journey. The happy-go-lucky fighter soon runs into a couple of bandits on the road who attack and try to rob him. While he holds his own against them, Ching soon finds help from a new kung-fu master that helps put a stop to things. This new master is Alan Chui, who takes offense to Ching calling him teacher but quickly buckles and agrees to take Ching as a student. Of course, after some time has passed, Chiu soon finds himself up against the deadly Tong and is soon killed like Chan Lung before him. Moving on once again, Ching runs into the wonderful Lily Li – a pretty girl with fantastic moves who kicks his ass a couple of times before agreeing to take him on as a student. As with the rest, she soon comes face-to-face with Tong in one of the film's highlight moments. A final twist leaves Ching's grandfather dead, though not before he confesses his secrets to the young fighter that all leads to an incredible showdown between Tong and Ching, with both stars delivering some great moves and Meng finally letting loose!

While he didn't star in many films over the course of his career, in comparison to many other kung-fu actors of that era, Meng Yuen Man still made quite the impression. Getting in with Shaw Brothers from an early age, Meng would go on to kick-ass and entertain in titles like The Dragon Missile, Hell's Windstaff, The Fighting Fool, and The Master Strikes with famed director and choreographer, Tony Ching Siu Tung. He continues to impress here, both with his comedy and kung-fu skills, getting to show some incredible moves for the majority of the films running time. Co-director and fight-choreographer Wilson Tong offers some of his best stuff, both as a co-star and director while giving everyone the chance to shine as much as he does himself. Daggers 8 would be his third feature as a director after the fantastic Kung-Fu Genius, and Snake Deadly Act, and is joined behind the camera by Cheung Sum who also plays Ching's grandfather. As always, it's great to see the likes of Peter Chan Lung, Alan Chiu, and Lily Li in any film, and interesting to note that Miss Li would also deliver an equally fantastic role in Jackie Chan's Young Master, shot the same year. She's an incredible kung-fu starlet that rarely fails to deliver, and gets to show off some incredible moves here – right down to her deadly fight with Wilson Tong. Popular Hong Kong actor and comedy star, Wong yat Fei, more internationally known for his role in Shaolin Soccer, stars as Ching's house assistant, with appearances from regular faces such as Cheng Kang Yeh, Billy Chan, and prolific actor Sai Gwa Pau – who has an incredible 800+ titles to his name.

While Daggers 8 may just seem like another kung-fu comedy, it is one of the better copy-cat films of that time offering neat direction and decent camerawork. It also wins with such a great cast and Wilson Tong's choreography, which is always a joy to watch. Like most titles from Goldig Films, Daggers 8 is worth the watch and quite enjoyable – even if it's a case of having seen it all before. One of the forgotten stars of the infamous Seven Little Fortunes troupe with Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biao, Daggers 8 would be one of three Meng Yuen Man films produced in 1980, before he would retire from the business in 1982 after suffering a heart attack...

Overall: Great kung-fu and decent comedy add to a top cast that makes Daggers 8 worth the watch!

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DANCE OF DEATH

(Hong Kong 1979) 

Original Title: Wu Quan (aka) The Eternal Conflict

Directed by Chen Chi Hwa Produced by Yen Wu Tong Action by Jackie Chan, Peng Kang Starring: Angela Mao Ying, Paul Chun, Dean Shek, Hsu Pu Liao, Chia Kai, Sun Jung Chi, Yu Sung Chao, Chi Fu Chiang, Hsiao Yao, Lui Wang Biu, Wang Tai Lang, Ko Pao, Chen Chi Hwa Reviewing: Wu Tang Clan/Ground Zero US DVD Release Genres: Traditional Kung-Fu / Comedy

 

 

Rating - 4 / 5

DVD Synopsis: Superstar Jackie Chan action directs this kung fu classic, starring Lady Kung Fu herself, Angela Mao Ying. The Long Braid Mantis King is out to destroy the Beggar Clan once and for all. It's up to the Beggar Queen to stop the kung fu holocaust from happening! Jackie Chan was at the top of his game when he took on this epic project. Top flight hand techniques and skills are the trademark of this classic. Do not miss this!! (90 Mins)

Views: After opening with a display of kung-fu from the wonderful Angela Mao Ying in an obligatory red-room sequence, we find the scruffy looking orphan-boy (yes, she is playing a boy here) stumble upon a fight in an old temple. The two fighting men, Hu and Madman, are kung-fu masters who meet for a duel every 5 years – and always end in a draw. After a friend is killed by some fighters of the evil Bird Gang, Ying convinces the two bumbling masters to teach her some new styles so that she can take revenge. They eventually agree and teach her the 5 Forms Technique, along with a new one called the Dance Style. Once brought together, Mao Ying will have perfected the moves needed to defeat her enemies!

I first saw (and bought) Dance Of Death way back in 2003 on a trip to New York. I remember it being quite enjoyable back then, but I don't think I've ever watched it again until now – and I have to wonder why. It's still such a fun film, bursting with the same style of mad-cap kung-fu comedy as Jackie Chan's classic Spiritual Kung-Fu, Drunken Master, and Half A Loaf Of Kung Fu, from just a couple years before. Saying that, I find it is very similar in tone to Fearless Hyena which was shot the same year, but I'm not too sure what came first. Of course, the two major reasons behind this would be that Jackie Chan himself was behind the fight choreography (more on that in a bit), brought in by his close friend and director Chen Chi Hwa who had already directed the martial-arts-legend in the likes of Lo Wei's Shaolin Wooden Men, Snake And Crane Arts Of Shaolin, and the aforementioned Half A Loaf Of Kung Fu. Jackie had already lent his services to Chen in helping choreograph some of the action in 36 Crazy Fists, but in Dance Of Death, it seems he was a bit more hands-on overall. As the tables turned for both directors, it would be Chen Chi Hwa who would go on to work for Jackie soon after, working as a co-director on many of his biggest hits such as Young Master, Police Story 1 & 2, Project A 2, Miracles, Drunken Master 2, and Armour Of God 2: Operation Condor – where he also cameoed as the weedy little adventurer who had been forced to marry the native in the films opening scenes...

Aside from some great kung-fu and funny comedy – typical of its time – Dance Of Death boasts a great cast with the always incredible Angela Mao Ying in the lead. Although playing a male role, her beauty and feminine characteristics shine through which makes you forget about the gender swap after a while. Of course, that all comes secondary when you see Mao Ying in action as she delivers a host of incredible moves, great forms, and impressive acrobatics. I can honestly say I probably haven't seen the femme-fatale move quite as well in any other production. Jackie's choreography makes it feel like the man himself is in the role (or at least, could easily have been), as he puts Mao Ying through her paces and no doubt demanded the best of what she could possibly do on a physical level. Prolific actor Paul Chun Pui, brother to superstars David Chiang and Derek Yee, stars as Ku Cheng Yuan – Ying's new friend who gets killed by the Bird Clan and the reason for her seeking revenge. I've always enjoyed seeing Paul on-screen in films such as Peking Opera Blues, Legend Of The Owl, The Adventurers, and many more as well as his stint in Chen's very own 36 Crazy Fists. The ever-energetic Dean Shek reprises his typical role of wacky assistant to the big villain, complete with wiry moustache, cheeky looks, and slapstick kung-fu. Although he has starred in many classics as this character, I never tire of seeing him and always enjoy his silliness.

Angela's masters are played by two of the odder actors from this era with the first being Hsu Pu Liao, the crazy character actor from Fantasy Mission Force. Known as the Chinese Chaplin, Hsu managed to star in over 60 films in only 10 years, before passing away at 34 due to alcohol-induced hepatitis and, ultimately, heart failure. While his kung-fu was never anything to write home about, Hsu won fans with his crazed comedy characters and was usually fun to watch. Her second master is played by Wang Tai Lang, a familiar face that starred in films such as One Armed Boxer Vs. The Flying Guillotine, Secret Of The Shaolin Poles, Militant Eagle, and played one of the ghosts in Jackie's own Spiritual Kung-Fu. Apart from a cameo the following year, Dance Of Death would prove to be his last major role. While other popular faces appear through-out, including a cameo from the director himself, the last major actor I'd like to mention is Chia Kai who plays the main villain of the film, Mu Fa Shan. Although only working over the course of a decade from the mid 70s to the mid 80s, Kai starred in many classics such as 10 Brothers Of Shaolin, Kung Fu Of Seven Steps, Mars Villa and Mantis Under Falcon Claws – of which he was also the action-director for. While most of his moves are saved for the awesome closing battle, he was definitely a great addition to the cast!

Behind the camera, and fresh off his success from Snake In The Eagles Shadow and Drunken Master, Jackie Chan was brought in as the fight-director for Dance Of Death – and it shows. Joining him is Peng Kang, an actor and choreographer that had worked with the star on Spiritual Kung-Fu, Half A Loaf Of Kung-Fu, Fearless Hyena, and Dragon Fist. Beyond that, Peng got in on titles such as Snake Deadly Act, Ninja In The Dragons Den, Matching Escort, and A Life Of Ninja. Between them, the duo pack Dance Of Death with some fantastic fight scenes while allowing Angela Mao Ying to display some of her best moves ever, with the choreography presenting her as the female Jackie Chan of which she pulls-off perfectly. From fights in the village to extensive and highly impressive finale, I can only imagine how much more of a hit this film would have been had Jackie himself been in the role. While Dance Of Death may not offer fans anything fresh in regards to its story – something very typical of this era – Chen Chi Hwa makes sure the focus is on the fights, something of which is brings plenty of. The comedy isn't as daft as a lot of other titles from this period and does offer a few chuckles through-out, and I must admit it was refreshing to see Mao Ying in such a role. I only wish she had had the chance to do more like this, as well as had been directed by Jackie a bit more often when it came to the action. Although it is often missed on peoples lists of kung-fu favourites, Dance Of Death may not be perfect, but it certainly entertains on many levels – especially with its fight scenes. Now if someone like 88 Films would give us a cleaned-up restoration of the film in its original language, I'm sure it would gain a lot of new fans and let the world see just how amazing Angela Mao Ying really was, in 4K...

Overall: Fast paced, with a great cast and fantastic kung-fu fights, Dance Of Death is well worth the watch and one of Mao Ying's finest hours!

DVD Extras: Trailers, Bonus Fights, Fighting Technique Demonstration, Music Video

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DANCE OF THE DRUNK MANTIS

(Hong Kong 1979) 

Original Title: Nan Bei Zui Quan (aka) Drunken Master Part 2; South North Drunk Fist

Directed by Yuen Woo Ping Produced by Ng See Yuen Action by The Yuen Clan, Corey Yuen Kwai Starring: Simon Yuen, Yuen Shun Yee, Hwang Jang Lee, Linda Lin Jing, Yen Shi Kwan, Dean Shek, Corey Yuen Kwai, Lee Fat Yuen, Chin Yuet Sang, Brandy Yuen, Yuen Mao Reviewing: Soulblade UK DVD Release Genres: Traditional Kung-Fu / Comedy

Rating - 4.3 / 5

DVD Synopsis: A year after training a young Jackie Chan in the Drunken Fist, Sam Seed returns home to find that his wife has adopted a son (Foggy), Sam dislikes the lad and tortures him mentally and physically. Devastated, the boy runs away and takes a job at an inn where he meets Rubber Legs and his student. He overhears that they are looking for Sam Seed and want to kill him, making Rubber Legs' northern Drunk Mantis Boxing supreme. Foggy returns home to warn Sam Seed, who is then injured by Rubber Legs. Sam sends Foggy to a sickness teacher for herbs to cure him, and the doctor teaches him a dreaded style called Sickness Boxing. Now, armed with this sick form of fighting, Foggy is ready for Drunk Mantis. (94 Mins)

Views: Originally sold as Drunken Master 2 in many territories, Dance Of The Drunk Mantis should really be the official sequel to the original hit film. I mean, it continues the story of Sam Seed (Simon Yuen) only a year after his adventures with a young Wong Fei Hung (Jackie Chan), was directed once again by Yuen Woo Ping and produced by Ng See Yuen, and although numerous cast members from the first film return, most of them play different roles than they previously did – which was typical of kung-fu movies from this era. But then of course, Jackie brought out his own sequel in 1994 which quite happily continued the story of the young Wong Fei Hung (with Chan having hardly aged a day over the 16 year gap between productions) and thus created a bit of a dilemma as to what really was the follow-up movie. In a sense, both titles could easily run alongside each other in regards to them continuing the stories of their characters – but if you really needed to settle on one, I guess it all depends on who you regard as the titular drunken master. Is it the character of Sam Seed, the old kung-fu master who loves to drink and teaches the art of drunken boxing? Or is it that of Jackie Chan's character of Wong Fei Hung, the troublesome kid who mastered the drunken style in order to beat one of the toughest fighters around (and someone his master, ultimately, could not defeat)It's quite the predicament I guess, and while Dance Of The Drunk Mantis has more consistency in tone, style, and production design than the more modern Golden Harvest sequel does in comparison to the original, it's more likely that Jackie Chan stands strong as the main connection for most people – thus making his version of Drunken Master 2 the official sequel to today's audience..

Set 1 year after the events of the original film, Dance Of The Drunk Mantis follows Sam Seed as he makes his way home to his wife. At the same time, Rubber Legs (Hwang Jang Lee) and his assistant are heading to the same town in search of Sam. He wants to challenge him in a fight for superiority using his Northern style of drunken boxing combined with the deadly mantis style kung-fu, against the old master's Southern style. When Sam returns home, he finds that his wife has adopted an adult son, Foggy, who is happy to see his new dad. Hoping to learn kung-fu, Foggy soon finds that his dad is slightly abusive towards him and soon runs away, finding solace with a new master who teaches Foggy the art of the Sick Fist. After a run-in with Rubber Legs leaves Sam injured, Foggy steps into save his dad and helps him escape. From there, Sam agrees to teach him the style of the Drunken Fist, which when combined with the Sick Fist, will help him to beat Rubber Legs' Drunken Mantis in a deadly showdown!

There's no denying that Dance Of The Drunk Mantis is a highly entertaining and well-made film. And as a Seasonal Production with Ng See Yuen behind it, you would expect nothing else. But it still seems to be missing something that the original Drunken Master had, as well as focusing on the comedy a little more than before. But most noticeably for me, it is the lack of charm of a certain Jackie Chan. It also has a touch of (what I like to call) sequelitis, in that the film-makers have tried too hard to better the first film, which quite often doesn't work in their favour. That said, there's still a lot to love here from the Yuen Clan's intricate choreography to the funny comedy situations, and then there's the incredible Hwang Jang Lee that steals the show for me. I've long been a huge fan of the super-kicker and it was nice to see him having fun with this role, as well as getting to show some amazing kicks and kung-fu. His student is played by the brilliant Corey Yuen Kwai, a man that needs no introduction and another of the Seven Little Fortunes that gained as much of a great start in the industry as his brothers Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung did. Along with co-starring and getting to show some incredible kung-fu – with his opening fight being a highlight on both fighters behalf, and his drunken style against Yuen Shun Yi (Foggy) executed perfectly – Yuen Kwai was a big part of the fight choreography with the Yuen Clan, a relationship that continued over many productions (and had started well before).

While I always enjoy seeing Yuen Shun Yi on-screen, it's safe to say that he's no Jackie Chan. There's no denying that he's got the comedy-timing and martial moves down to a tee, but there is a natural charm to Jackie that many stars just don't have. Regardless, Shun Yi as Foggy is brilliant and allowed him to show some incredible skills as a leading man. Although he had been in the business for over a decade at this point, most of his roles were as an extra or bit-player in an incredible amount of Shaw Brothers productions, gaining bigger roles from about 1977 onwards with his brothers before Dance Of The Drunk Mantis really gave him leading-man status - leading on to classics such as The Buddhist Fist and Dreadnaught of course. While his on-screen presence would fade around the turn-of-the-century, Yuen Shun Yi would continue his work behind the camera as a martial-arts-director on films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny, The Banquet, True Legend, Kung Fu Hustle, and the Ip Man movies. His father however - having starred in over 340 movies during the course of his career - would be forever seen in the eyes of kung-fu fans as the grey haired, scruffy old beggar which was a role that would see him typecast in most of his films for the last few years of his life. That's not to say it was a bad thing, going on to give Simon Yuen (the leader and father of the Yuen Clan), legendary status in the cinematic world and a character that is still copied to this very day. Popular kung-fu star, Yen Shi Kwan, stars as the Sick Fist master and the man who helps teach Yuen Shun Yi the deadly style. Although a great mover and actor in his own right, Yen's moves are elevated to greatness with the Yuen Clan's choreography that gives him some scene-stealing moments. Of course, Yen would go on to star alongside more of Hong Kong cinema's greatest stars including Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Cynthia Khan, and Michelle Yeoh respectively. The wonderful Linda Lin Ying returns after her role in the original Drunken Master, only this time to play Sam Seed's wife and Foggy's mum. Although her time in the film world spans almost 30 years, Linda has only starred in 7 films altogether – yet has impressed with her flexibility and martial arts every time. Her highlight moment here has to be her showdown fight against Corey Yuen Kwai, in a fantastically worked fight that highlights her skills to the max. And although she is doubled a couple of times for the more acrobatic moves, she still proves to carry the majority of the fight and looks great doing so. The ever wonderful Dean Shek returns in his trademark wacky role, this time as Money Bags the bank manager, and the fantastic Chin Yuet Sang gets an extended cameo as a loan shark who think he can harass the subdued Mrs. Seed...

As mentioned, the choreography for Dance Of The Drunk Mantis is handled by the Yuen Clan. This consisted of director Yuen Woo Ping, star Yuen Shun Yi, brother Brandy Yuen Ja Yeung, and co-stars Corey Yuen Kwai and Chin Yuet Sang, most of who had worked on the original film the year before. Between them, the team take things to the next level with even more intricate moves, speed, and great acrobatics that make every fight of the film exciting to watch. From the opening fight scene with Corey Yuen Kwai to the one-on-one between Sam Seed and Rubber Legs, the team definitely set-out to impress and certainly achieved it. It all leads to an even more impressive final 20 minutes, which sees Foggy reach his peak in training and take on Rubber Legs in the final showdown, is a pretty incredible display of choreography and martial arts from both parties involved. And although many have stated that the doubling of Simon Yuen was distracting to some degree, it's definitely not off-putting by any means. Viewers must remember how old this guy actually was and, in one of his final cinematic roles, still manages to pull-it-off. Producer and writer Ng See Yuen was on a winning streak during this stage of Hong Kong cinema, something that continues to show with Dance Of The Drunk Mantis. While it would have been great to see Jackie Chan return for a sequel this close to the original and at the height of it's popularity, this offering still proves to be highly entertaining and well worth the watch!

Overall: With a little more comedy than before, Dance Of The Drunk Mantis offers a lot of exciting kung-fu action and should not be missed by fans of old-school movies, Yuen Woo Ping, or it's stars!

DVD Extras: Audio Commentary by Rick Baker & Toby Russell, Interviews, Rare Footage of Hwang Jang Lee, Drunken Master Deleted Scene, Trailers, Cast & Crew Notes, Restoration Footage

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DANCES WITH DRAGON

(Hong Kong 1991) 

Original Title: Yu Long Gong Wu

Directed by Wong Jing Produced by Jimmy Heung, Wong Jing Action by Paul Wong Kwan Starring: Andy Lau, Sharla Cheung Man, Deannie Yip, Alfred Cheung, Yvonne Yung Hung, Ng Man Tat, Wu Ma, May Lo, Ridley Tsui, Wong Yat Fei Reviewing: YouTube Release Genres: Romance / Comedy

Rating - 3.5 / 5

Synopsis: A young, successful Hong Kong businessman drifts onto a rural island, after he is pushed overboard from his boat by an angry girlfriend. Mistaken for an illegal immigrant and keeping his identity secret, he is forced to work and hide in a family run grocery store where he soon falls for the owners daughter. (108 Mins)

Views: This early 90s rom-com from Golden Harvest and Wins Movie Productions, proved to be quite the hit upon release with director Wong Jing in top form and a strong cast behind him. That said, it doesn't offer much that we haven't seen before, but still has a charm about it that makes for a fun watch. Andy Lau plays Lung Ka Chun, a wealthy businessman who is into real-estate, driving nice cars, and is hounded by his mum to marry anyone she seemingly introduces. While out on a boat trip with his latest lady-friend, Lung gets pushed overboard by here and left to fend for himself as she takes the boat away. Floating about in the shark invested waters, Lung soon makes his way to the shore of a rural island with a host of illegal immigrants who have swam in from the mainland and soon find themselves on the run from the police. This results in a chase through the streets, with Andy making his escape in some pretty-tight speedos – which was a welcome sight, I must say! Hiding in a nearby home, Lung is soon found and captured by mother and daughter team, Deannie Yip and Sharla Cheung Man, who mistake him for an illegal mainlander. Lung decides to play along for a while so he can escape the rat-race and let those in his life worry for a bit. At the same time, Moon (Cheung) has gotten a job at Lung's business in the city, working with her cousin Charmy (May Lo) and hounded by Lung's assistant Martin. As expected, complications naturally arise as love starts to blossom and truths come to light that test relationships and proving that love conquers all...

While not amazing in any way, Dances With Dragon is an enjoyable rom-com that doesn't suffer from the usual crass humour or too much mo-lei-tau that would normally be seen in a Chow Sing Chi or wackier Wong Jing production. Instead, the humour often comes across in a silly-but-cute kind of way, just ever so slightly dipping its toe into mo-lei-tau territory. That usually comes about when the hilarious and recently departed, Ng Man Tat, appears. Ng plays Andy's right-hand man – his only lifeline to the real world while in hiding, who keeps his boss up-to-date with what's happening at home and often getting himself into some crazy situations to help keep his cover. Sharla Cheung Man gets to offer a more comedic role than usual as the Lantau Island resident who gets a job in the big city with the help of her cousin Charmy, played by May Lo Mei Wei. As per usual, Cheung is always a joy to watch and seems to be having fun here getting in on some hilarious moments, as well as getting to be the Belle of the ball. The always amazing Deannie Yip stars as her mother, a sweet and comical lady who tries her hand at cheating people for a few extra dollars, whether its at mahjong or pretending to heal them with her kung-fu. Actor and director in his own right, Alfred Cheung, plays Martin – assistant to Lau's character in the business and potential brother-in-law to his boss, with his sister Diana (played by Yvonne Yung Hung) currently dating Lung. Wu Ma plays an island cop called Uncle Prawn who has a long-time connection to Ng Man Tat's character of Uncle Fly, and older character actor, Bau Hon Lam from God Of Gamblers, plays Uncle Chow – a pain-in-the-arse businessman who likes to degrade Lung when possible and trick him out of a deal.

With a few other regular faces popping up throughout, such as Paul Chu, Tan Lap man, Ridley Tsui, John Ching, and Wong Yat Fei, Dances With Dragon proves to be an easy watch. Although some of it's jokes may appeal more to a local audience, there's still enough going on to entertain the more unfamiliar audience. While it could have been snipped by 10 or 15 minutes, the charm of it's cast and tidy direction of Wong Jing keep you glued. And from a period when Hong Kong cinema was rife with martial-arts action, triad stories, and gambling thrillers, it must have been a great chance for it's leading man to breathe considering it was only 1 of 14 incredible titles he starred in that year – from Ann Hui's Zodiac Killers to the hilarious Tricky Brains with Chow Sing Chi, and from the incredible Saviour Of The Soul to Wong Kar Wai's highly praised, Days Of Being Wild, it's seems there was no stopping this man. Dances With Dragon proves to be a much more relaxed experience than the majority of those other offerings in 1991, but it still shows what a great comic actor Andy Lau is, along with those that joined him on-screen!

Overall: While it's not incredible by any means, Dances With Dragon is a charming rom-com with a great cast and many funny moments!

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DEVIL HUNTERS

(Hong Kong 1989) 

Original Title: Lie Mo Qun Ying (aka) Ultra Force 2; Red Force 3; Megaforce 2

Directed by Tony Liu Produced by Lee Yuk Hing Action by Tsui Fat Starring: Moon Lee, Ray Lui, Sibelle Hu, Candy Wen, Alex Mann, Francis Ng, Michael Chan Wai Man, Lau Siu Ming, Ken Lo, Wong Wai, Ridley Tsui, James Ha, Cheng Kang Yeh, Jack Wong, Andy Tai Chi Wai Reviewing: Spectrum Films French Blu-ray Release Genres: Martial Arts / Thriller / Girls With Guns 

 

Rating - 3.5 / 5

Spectrum Films Blu-ray Synopsis: Inspector Fong is on the trail of jewellery trafficking. During a transaction between two mafia clans, the suspect Bing spreads panic and the exchange turns into carnage. This confusion allows Shing to kidnap his boss, "Master Sam," in an attempt to find out where to hide the jewellery. At the same time, the daughter of the mafia boss contacted Fong to suggest that he team up to find her father. Filmed in 1989 and released in France in vhs under the title of Raid for the honour, Devil Hunters is part of the genre Girls With Guns whose matrix is Yes Madam! What strikes most with the vision of Devil Hunters, besides the rhythm and the frenetic action scenes, it is this incredible cast for a film of pure exploitation. Moon Lee (Angel, Mr. Vampire), Sibelle Hu (Fong Sai Yuk, My Lucky Stars), Alex Man (As Tears Go By, Long Arm Of The Law 2), Ray Lui (To Be Number One, The Suspect), Ken Lo (Drunken Master 2, Crime Story) but especially Francis Ng (The Mission, Infernal Affairs 2) who plays here one of his first roles as a bastard.

 

German (Ultra Force 2) DVD Synopsis: Gangster San, head of the Hong Kong Syndicate, and Chai, handler of the Golden Triangle mafia, have a rough drug deal in an anonymous tip, and Captain Tong of the Hong Kong Police is already in the park. He hopes to catch all the dealers at once, but an unknown girl ruins the action. A deadly shoving begins in the course of which the gangsters can swear. San suspects Chai of tipping the police and orders him to be killed. Chai dies in the arms of his son Rick who swears bloody vengeance.

Views: A deranged gangster gathers his own loyal band of men to find his boss's stash of diamonds, killing anyone that gets in the way – even down to the big man himself. But the boss's daughter is onto him, and with the help of his former second-in-command they set out to stop him. Along the way, the daughter joins forces with the Hong Kong police who make a deal with her to save her father and stop his manic minion. Well, that's it in a nutshell I think! But if I'm to be honest, Tony Liu's script and direction gets a little muddled at times, that you soon give-up on the plot and just take in the crazy action that's on offer!

Shot back-to-back with Moon Lee's Killer Angels – which was released in Germany as Ultra Force and this as Ultra Force 2Devil Hunters offers up a few odd moments in its storyline, some rough cinematography, plenty of great fight action, and a lot of doubling for Moon Lee. If anything, I'd say this was a pretty cheap and quick production that delivers a lot of cut-and-paste shots of the femme fatale, re-using obvious clips over-and-over again that become quite obvious during the films opening action scene at the amusement park. The same thing happens again during a shootout later on, with close-up's on Moon's face murmuring one or two words before cutting to a wide shot that only showed her from behind or at an angle. I found it very weird (and more-so during the amusement park scene) since Moon was clearly there and mixing with other cast members during the scene, but her doubling by a man in costume for some kicks and punches was quite obvious, as were the cuts to the same close-up of her falling down. It just threw me as they were for such bizarre moments – unless, of course, she had gotten badly injured early on that it was called for. Regardless, it doesn't really detract from the action too much and fan's get to rejoice later as Moon returns to kick-ass (in full view) a number of times. Personally, I think Moon Lee was the greatest of the femme fatale genre (just edging past Yukari Oshima ever so little). She had only just exploded onto the scene as an action actress a year or two before with her role in the awesome Iron Angels 1 & 2, which was quickly followed by Killer Angels and this in 1989. It would prove to be a busy year for Ms. Lee with an action-packed role in the brilliant Princess Madam, as well as a second sequel in the Iron Angels series. In fact, I'd imagine that she might have managed to squeeze out another 2 or 3 had she not been hospitalised after shooting the explosive ending for this film. In one of the most memorable moments of Hong Kong action cinema, Moon Lee, Ray Lui, and Sibelle Hu attempt to jump from a first story window as Francis Ng blows-up a gas canister from inside. Unfortunately, things went a little awry that saw the three of them engulfed in flames as they jumped out of the window. Although they were rushed to hospital, the actors were out of action for some time although seemingly recovered fine and were soon back in action for their next roles.

The great Francis Ng seems to get a kick (literally) from playing slimy characters. He does it so well, and in Devil Hunters brilliantly plays the bad guy you just love to hate. One scene sees him torture a young woman who he has tied up naked (except for knickers), after he covers her with crickets before going-on to stab her and rip off her toenails with pliers. This is all before she is brutally raped over a barrel by his men, of course. It's crazy to think that he had only been on the scene for a few years by this stage, with Devil Hunters coming in as his 7th or 8th film at the time. Of course, the actor has since went on to star in a host of great titles and make a name for himself as one of Hong Kong's most prolific actors with over 160 roles to date, and stuck with director Tony Liu for The Dragon Fighter right after this. The infamous Michael Chan Wai Man plays the role of a more subdued ex-gangster for the majority of the film, but manages to get in on the action towards the end of the flick as he tries to take on Ng and his men in an explosive and manic shootout in the hills. Like Ng, Chan has starred in as many titles (only since the early 70s) and is just as famous for his real-life antics as much as his life as an actor. The wonderful Ray Lui, who spends a lot of his time creeping around and hiding on people, gets to go all out as one of the good guys who eventually joins forces with Moon Lee and the cops in finding her father and bringing Francis Ng to justice. I'm a huge fan of Lui Leung Wai and would first have seen him in Jackie Chan's Project A 2. Of course, he had been around since the early 80s and went on to star in some crackers over the years and is still going strong today appearing in films such as Dynasty Warriors and Raging Fire, alongside Donnie Yen. It was great to see him get to kick-ass as much as everyone else, and look great doing it. Alex Man, who was matching his previous years projects with the same amount of films (12) in 1989 including Crocodile Hunter, China White, The Last Duel, and Framed, takes things a little easier as the chief of police. He still gets to join the action here-and-there, but most of his screen time is spent giving orders to Sibelle Hu or making plans with Lee and Lui. Miss Hu, who once again gets artfully doubled for many of her more tricky moves, looks great and still manages to pull off some nice moves during her many action scenes. I've always been a huge fan of Sibelle ever since I saw her in the classic My Lucky Stars and Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars, as well as the Jackie Chan produced Top Squad – better known as The Inspector Wears Skirts – alongside Cynthia Rothrock. She's always been a treat to watch, especially when starring with other action starlets like Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima, and has been in some fantastic titles over the years through to her retirement from the industry in the late 1990s after a role in Yuen Woo Ping's Tai Chi 2/Tai Chi Boxer, and a lesser-known mainland production called The Rising Sun & A Sudden Clap Of Thunder in the year of Hong Kong's handover. It was also great to see the brilliant Ken Lo star as one of Francis Ng's heavies and put his kicks to good use, along with Andy Tai Chi Wai who reminded me of a young Lau Ching Wan at times...

I must admit, I am a fan of director Tony Liu's work. From his early days at Shaw Brothers with Holy Flame Of The Martial World to Bastard Swordsman and its sequel, and Hwang Jang Lee classics like Hell's Wind Staff and Tiger Over Wall, to his more modern works such as this and Killer Angels, Angel Terminators 2, Dreaming The Reality, Holy Virgin Vs The Evil Dead, The Dragon Fighter, and then some. Of course, Liu had been acting well before his directorial debut of Tough Guy in 1974, starring in films such as The Great Plot, The Inn Of Mercy, and The Invincible Iron Palm. It was probably because of these bit-player roles that Liu decided to start writing and directing his own, giving him the chance to become more of a star and get stuck into the action. His first few films as a director (after Tough Guy) included Trail Of The Dragon, The Black Dragon's Revenge, and Magic Curse while still appearing in other films such as Action Tae Kwon Do, Bruce Lee & I, The Himalayan, Iron Fisted Monk, Broken Oath, Thunder Run alongside Ray Lui, and many more over the years. He is joined by Tsui Fat, the director of 13 Cold Blooded Eagles and actor of over 150 films which range from his days at the Shaw Brothers studios through to many of Tony Liu's directed flicks. Apart from his vast acting career, Fat would also be well known to fans of Hong Kong cinema for his action choreography on many Hong Kong films. This began on early classics such as the awesome Five Superfighters, The Fighting Fool, The Master, Kung Fu Vs. Yoga, and the patchwork Fearless Hyena 2. As the modern age crept in, Tsui continued his work as an action-director for Tony Liu's Killer Angels and Devil Hunters, as well as earlier Donnie Yen vehicles such as Crystal Hunt, Cheetah On Fire, and Holy Virgin Versus The Evil Dead – some of which he also co-directed. Between them both, Liu and Fat present a fast paced and energetic piece with Devil Hunters that boasts a great cast, and some very memorable action scenes!

Overall: Exciting and packed full of wild action, Devil Hunters has its flaws but still proves to be a highly entertaining piece of late 80s Hong Kong cinema!

Spectrum Films Blu-ray Extras: Introduction by Arnuad Lanuque, Video Essay by Julien Seveon, Trailer

German DVD Extras: Trailers

Watch my unboxing video of this Spectrum Films release HERE

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DIRTY HO

(Hong Kong 1976) 

Original Title: Lan Tou He

Directed by Lau Kar Leung Produced by Run Run Shaw Action by Lau Kar Leung Starring: Wong Yu, Gordon Liu, Lo Lieh, Johnny Wang Lung Wei, Hsiao Ho, Wilson Tong, Kara Hui, Helen Poon, Lam Hak Ming, Jamie Luk, Wong Ching Ho, Peter Chan, San Si Reviewing: Arrow Video Shaw Scope Blu-ray Release Genres: Martial Arts / Comedy

Rating - 4.7 / 5

Arrow Video UK Blu-ray Synopsis (Book): Ho Jen, a chivalrous robber likes to squander money on female entertainers. But, one night, he discovers that Wang Tsun Hsin, a millionaire, has monopolized all the girls. Under these circumstances, the two men meet. Wang takes a liking to Ho, but knowing he is a robber of licentious character, he tries to make him turn over a new leaf by helping him avoid arrest on several occasions. Ho being so obstinate, Wang decides to teach him a lesson. He deliberately plans on getting Ho wounded. Once wounded, Ho discovers that no doctor can cure him, so he finally turns to Wang for help. In exchange for curing his wound, Wang wants him to be his apprentice and for Ho to follow him wherever he goes. Though unwilling to submit, Ho has no choice. Emperor Kangxi has fourteen sons and one of them has to be chosen as his successor. Wang Tsun Hsin happens to be his 11th son. The 4th son, however, wants to succeed to the throne and, knowing Wang is in Guangdong, specially makes General Liang responsible for getting rid of Wang. Knowing Wang's keen personal interest in wine and Chinese art, they use this knowledge to try on many occasions to have him killed. But Wang is such a well-skilled martial artist that he outsmarts them. Unfortunately, at one point he is wounded in the leg, and Ho helped him escape. Understanding later that Wang is actually the 11th son of Emperor Kangxi, and a skilful martial artist, Ho willingly accepts him as master and learns from him the technique of martial arts expertise. A big reward is offered to anyone who gets rid of Wang, and his whereabouts is known since people know of Ho. They, therefore, leave their hideout and head for the capital city. On the way, as expected, they are ambushed by General Liang's men, which they narrowly escape. When they arrive at the city, they are again hindered by General Liang and his men. Finally, they succeed in foiling the plans of the 4th son. (103 Mins)

Views: As I've said before, there are many kung-fu movie titles that could be easily misconstrued to fit into the cinematic world of porn such as Gambling For Head, Brave Young Girls, Red Lips, Naked Weapon – heck, even Fist Of Fury could slide on in there! And then there's Dirty Ho - one of my favourite Shaw Brother films from director Lau Kar Leung that tells the tale of an endangered prince, who enlists a quick witted and talented thief to serve as his bodyguard in a bid to protect him from many assassination attempts. After a busy, but successful year in 1978 with 36th Chamber Of Shaolin, Heroes Of The East, and Shaolin Mantis, Lau went for another hat-trick in '79 with this classic, the fun Spiritual Boxer 2, and the brilliant Mad Monkey Kung Fu of which he returned for a full starring role. But it's clear that both years obviously took their toll with him as Kar Leung would only deliver one production the following year with the wonderful, Return To The 36th Chamber. Regardless, with Dirty Ho Lau was at the top of his game and managed to deliver an outstanding piece of kung-fu cinema that has now been released in a 2K restoration as part of the Shaw Scope Vol.1 collection from Arrow Video – a major upgrade from watching it on my old VHS release from Made In Hong Kong and the Thai release of the Celestial DVD that I had imported...

The great Gordon Liu shines as the 11th Prince, Wang Chin Chen, favoured heir to the throne and undercover antique jewellery dealer. After training with Lau Kar Leung's father, Lau Cham (who himself was taught be Wong Fei Hung's infamous student Butcher Wing), Gordon was soon adopted into the family and moved into the film industry with the rest of the Lau brothers. Moving up from stuntman and extra, Liu made enough of an impression in Breakout From Oppression to bag himself a role in Chang Cheh's Shaolin Martial Arts and Five Shaolin Masters before landing his first leading role with Lau Kar Leung as a young Wong Fei Hung in Challenge Of The Masters. The pair quickly followed up with Executioners From Shaolin, but it would be Lau's classic 36th Chamber Of Shaolin (just prior to this) that would really project Gordon Liu to leading man status. Now, in high demand, Liu would go on to star in over 100 films (not including television shows), moving into modern-day action films in the late 80s with films like Tiger On The Beat 1 & 2, A Bloody Fight, Killer Angels, Cheetah On Fire, Last Hero In China, and hitting Hollywood hard with his roles in Kill Bill 1 & 2, as well as The Man With The Iron Fists in 2012. But it would be after this, that Gordon would suffer from a stroke and a bad fall that has since seen him step out of the industry for the last decade unfortunately – quite possibly destined never to return to the screen again. Wong Yu returns to work with Lau Kar Leung once again after playing the lead role in Spiritual Boxer and co-starring in Challenge Of The Masters, Executioners Of Shaolin, 36th Chamber Of Shaolin, and Spiritual Boxer 2. Wong made his feature film debut alongside Chen Kuan Tai in The Bloody Fists in 1972, a production directed by Ng See Yuen, and for the next 5 years, the pair would star together in a number of films including The Tea House, The Flying Guillotine, Big Brother Cheng, and the aforementioned Kar Leung movies. While I've never been amazed by Wong Yu, it's fair to say that he is a very talented performer and seems to be having fun in the titular role of Dirty Ho Ching – the small time thief who gets recruited by Liu. Originally named Wong Chi Kuen when he was born, the actor has been known as Wong Yue, Wang Yu, and Wong Yu respectively - renamed by one of the Shaw Brothers out of spite towards the real Jimmy Wang Yu who had left the studio to work on more independent flicks and many Golden Harvest pictures – with the latter fast becoming the Shaw Brothers biggest competitor. After starring in almost 80 feature films and a host of television shows, Wong would retire from the industry in the mid-90s with final roles in films such as Godfather's Daughter Mafia Blues, Handsome Siblings, Sleeping With Two Sisters, and the television show Legend Of The Warring States. After trying his hand in several different business opportunities in the years to come, Wong would pass in 2008 from acute pneumonia.

The fantastic Lo Lieh stars as General Liang Jing Cheng, a royal guard who works for a rival prince that is determined to remove Liu from the picture. Born in Indonesia to Cantonese parents, the great Lo Lieh started life in the film industry when he joined the Shaw Brothers studio in 1964. After a bit part in The Dancing Millionairess, Lo quickly climbed the ladder as an actor appearing in films such as Temple Of The Red Lotus, The Twin Swords, The Sword & The Lute, Tiger Boy, Magnificent Trio, and Golden Swallow – all alongside Jimmy Wang Yu – as well as roles in King Cat, The Thundering Sword, Dragon Swamp, and Brothers Five for director Lo Wei (which also featured choreography by Sammo Hung). More prominent roles in the aforementioned Valley Of The Fangs and The Chinese Boxer (again with Wang Yu) took him through to a busy year in 1971 where he would star in no less than 10 feature films, right through to the production of the ground-breaking King Boxer a year later. From there, Lo Lieh went on to star in (and appear in) hundreds of fantastic titles right through to the turn-of-the-century, just before his death at the end of 2002. Respectively, Lo made his own directional debut in1973 with Devil & Angel – a martial arts crime-thriller also starring Wu Ma and Chan Wai Man, which also saw him produce as part of his own film company, Lo's Film, before going on to direct a further 8 films including the highly regarded Clan Of The White Lotus, Black Magic With Buddha, and Zen Master 6. Fan-favourite Johnny Wang Lung Wei appears as Master Fan – a fellow antiques dealer who gets to trade moves with Liu over a cup of wine at an art deal. At his side is the agile and entertaining Hsiao Ho who entertains viewers with his monkey kung-fu – a little taste of what was to come when he starred alongside Lau Kar Leung in the awesome Mad Monkey Kung Fu which was also made the same year. Fight choreographer and kung-fu star Wilson Tong appears in a similar role to Wang, where he gets to trade kicks with the 11th Prince as they checkout some handmade pieces and paintings. This time though, the stakes are a little higher as Tong attacks Liu with a bladed shoe – backed by a number of his servants. It's a revealing moment for Ho when he realises that Liu can fight, but has to come to his aid when Tong lands a blade in the royal's thigh. And the lovely Kara Wai guest stars as one of the brothel girls who gets used as a weapon by Liu when in a confrontation with Ho. Interestingly enough, Wai (also known as Hui Ying Hung – and sister to movie star Austin Wai) was upgraded to the part after the lead actress of the film quit due to the strain of the stunt-work involved. And although Hui and Kar Leung had worked on many projects before for her godfather Chang Cheh – with her as a bit player and him as choreographer – Dirty Ho would mark the first time Kara would star in a Lau Kar Leung film, subsequently kicking-off their infamous personal relationship soon after that. Of course, Wai would spend many years starring in a host of Lau's works (as well as many others) with the incredible 8 Diagram Pole Fighter marking her final film for the Shaw Brothers studio. From there, Hui Ying Hung would star in a host of modern-day action comedies, dramatic thrillers, fantasy films, and any amount of titles in the girls-with-guns sub-genre, with over 150 film credits to her name right through to today.

With high production values and hugely impressive choreography, Dirty Ho is a masterpiece of the late 70s packed with great comedy, a wonderful cast that deliver a range of wild characters, and some some gorgeous cinematography courtesy (once again) of Arthur Wong. who also shot Kar Leung's 36th Chamber Of Shaolin, Heroes Of The East, Shaolin Mantis, Spiritual Boxer 2, and Mad Monkey Kung Fu. Of course, Wong would go on to lens some of Hong Kong cinemas most memorable films including Aces Go Places 1 & 2, Wheels On Meals, My Lucky Stars, Once Upon A Time In China, Crime Story, Iron Monkey, and more modern flicks such as Bodyguards & Assassins, The Warlords, Painted Skin, and League Of Gods with Jet Li. It's also worth noting that apart from his work behind the camera and appearances in films like Viva Erotica, Beast Cops, Infernal Affairs 2, and Gangster Payday, Wong also directed The Fool Escape starring Lau Kar Wing in 1980, Cynthia Khan's In The Line Of Duty 3: Force Of The Dragon in '88, and Ulterior Motive in 2015 with Gordon Lam and Simon Yam. And while many may complain of its sudden ending or lack of explanation as to why the attacks were put upon Liu's prince, it never really bothered me as this was such a common thing with kung-fu films from this era. It's not like we don't know what is really going on to be honest, and Lau delivers enough incredible choreography and fight action to keep a smile on any viewers face from start to finish. In fact, the end battle itself is worth the ticket price alone!

Overall: Another kung-fu classic from Lau Kar Leung, Dirty Ho is one film I can never tire of watching!

Arrow Video Blu-ray Extras: 2K Restoration, Appreciation Film by Tony Rayns, Trailers, Image Gallery

Celestial Thai DVD Extras: Trailers

Watch my unboxing video of this Arrow Video release HERE

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DISCIPLES OF SHAOLIN

(Hong Kong 1975) 

Original Title: Hong Quan Xiao Zi (aka) Invincible One; The Hung Boxing Kid

Directed by Chang Cheh Produced by Keng Chu, Shih Wei Peng Action by Lau Kar Leung Starring: Alexander Fu Sheng, Chi Kuan Chun, Chiang Tao, Chen Ming Li, Fung Hak On, Wang Ching Ping, Lu Ti, Han Chiang, Fan Shou Yi, Jamie Luk, Stephen Yip, Eric Tsang, Brandy Yuen, Yuen Shun Yee Reviewing: 88 Films UK Blu-ray Release Genres: Traditional Kung-Fu / Drama 

Rating - 4 / 5

88 Films UK Blu-ray Synopsis: Another Kung Fu vehicle from the infamous Shaw Brothers studio, Disciples Of Shaolin AKA Hong quan xiao zi, delivers a typically power-packed Hong Kong tale of enemy gangs and super cool fight scenes. When shaolin disciple Kuan Fung Yi (Fu Sheng) takes a job at a textile factory he soon becomes embroiled in a bitter and violent clash with the rival Manchu clan who run a neighbouring mill. As well delivering some impressive martial arts set pieces, Disciples Of Shaolin also provides a political punch, underlining the abuse of workers and the corruption of cruel bosses. Fast, fierce and thought provoking, this is a must for collectors of extreme Asian cinema. (107 Mins)

The Vengeance Pack German Blu-ray Mediabook Synopsis: The lovable farm boy Kuan comes to town to visit his friend Huang Han, who works in a weaving mill. Kuan quickly realizes that different customs and priorities prevail in the city than in his home country. He starts a job as a porter in the weaving mill, but due to his boisterous demeanour, he often offends other workers. However, his friend Huang Kuan can always prevent Kuan's expulsion. The weaving mill, however, has an inexorable competitor who does not stop at violent attacks. Kuan, who is a very good kung fu warrior, prevents worse things from happening and rises in the reputation of the weaving mill owner, Xin Fa Long. He becomes a foreman... But fame and money go to his head. Disciples Of Shaolin is one of the films that made Alexander Fu Sheng an absolute superstar. His performance is still considered one of the best ever seen in a kung fu film. Co-starring Chi Kuan Chun and directed by Chang Cheh, the film is an unforgettable piece of Asian cinematography. (102 Mins)

Views: Alexander Fu Sheng plays Guan Feng Yi, a down-on-his-luck kid from the countryside who comes to the city in search of his good friend, Wang Hon. He soon finds Wang working at a textile factory and quickly gets embroiled in a war with a neighbouring factory, run by the arrogant Manchus and Boss Ha. In doing so, Guan starts to gain a little more respect which brings him more riches than he can imagine as he climbs the social ladder. At the same time though, it starts to drive a wedge between Wang and himself which doesn't help Guan when things take a turn for the worst that see him beaten to death after a brutal fight in Boss Ha's home. Of course, it is then up to Wang Hon to take revenge and bring Boss Ha to his knees!

Unlike most other Chang Cheh films, viewers don't need to take notes on Disciples Of Shaolin to keep up with the huge cast on offer, as the majority of the focus stays on Alexander Fu Sheng (and Chi Kuan Chun in more of an extended bit-part). It's also not as violent and bloody as the most of his titles were around this period and even though it came in between his renowned 'Shaolin Cycle' of films – such as Heroes Two, Men From The Monastery, Shaolin Martial Arts, Five Shaolin Masters, and the fantastic Shaolin Temple – this title doesn't really have anything to do with any of them. Although named as Disciples Of Shaolin, it's fair to say that there isn't a single scene (or talk) of Shaolin itself, which leads me to think that it's more about the characters of Guan and Wang who were once disciples of the famed temple – and most probably suited its other title of The Invincible One more-so. Chang often liked to tell rise-and-fall stories, such as those seen in the awesome Boxer From Shantung, Chinatown, and many others, with Disciples Of Shaolin being no exception. The film gives Fu Sheng the chance to prove himself as an actor, giving a strong performance as the farm kid who is happier to finally receive a new pair of shoes, than anything else. I must admit though, it has given me a new appreciation of Fu Sheng who mixes comedy and dramatics with some great moves. While he has often been referred to as the original 'clown prince of kung-fu' (before Jackie Chan owned that title), I more often than not just found him to be irritating and annoying as opposed to funny. But there have been certain titles over the years – most of which have been restored and re-released like this – that are letting me see that Fu Sheng had a lot more to offer. The wonderful Chi Kuan Chun appears in what would only be his 4th role after the aforementioned Men From The Monastery, Shaolin Martial Arts, and Five Shaolin Masters, although doesn't really get to kick any ass until the final scene – which, in turn, looks like it had been misplaced from an early part of the movie. The wonderful Chaing Tao (aka Kong Do) returns in yet another bad guy role as Boss Ha, with the incredible Fung Hak On by his side. Both names have been a huge part of kung-fu cinema for many decades now, with each starring in over 200 titles (not to mention any television credits) as well as doubling-up as action-choreographers over the years. Fung even managed to direct a small number of films between 1981 and 1991 including The Gold Hunters which was produced by Jackie Chan, and the wonderfully named Godfather's Daughter Mafia Blues with Yukari Oshima. Unfortunately, Fung would pass in 2016 although had continued to star in films right up till then such as Tai Chi Zero, Ip Man: The Final Fight, Badges Of Fury, Once Upon A Time In Shanghai, and the outrageously fun Soccer Killer from Jeff Lau. A number of recognisable faces help fill out the cast, and many of which had starred alongside Fu Sheng and Chi Kuan Chun over the years. These include Lu Ti, Han Chiang, Chan Shao Chun, Stephen Yip, Jamie Luk, Ko Chang Sheng, and many more – including appearances by young stars Eric Tsang, Brandy Yuen, Yuen Shun Yi, Chan Siu Kai as extras or stuntmen.

The legendary (and late) Lau Kar Leung handles the fight choreography in Disciples Of Shaolin, delivering a number of fun fights throughout that really entertain – especially the final battle for Alexander which is shown in a beautiful, sepia-toned, black and white filter. While Fu Sheng has never came across to me as a genuine kung-fu master, he still manages to throw some nice moves and pulls-off a number of high-combination sequences under Leung's direction – with rumours that the master himself trained Fu Sheng for a good 6 months leading up to this. Interestingly enough, master Lau would return almost 20 years later to choreograph the action in Johnnie To's highly praised remake, The Barefooted Kid, starring the gorgeous Aaron Kwok, with Ti Lung, and Maggie Cheung. Produced by Mona Fong, through Cosmopolitan Film Productions (under the Shaw Brothers/Celestial Pictures banner) along with titles such as Chow Sing Chi's Out Of The Dark, Love On Delivery, Look Out Officer, and The Mad Monk, To's film is a much different take on Chang Cheh's original tale – and probably more beautiful and melodramatic to a point, with even more incredible martial arts-action. The script for Disciples Of Shaolin was written by Chang Cheh and the prolific Ni Kuang. For Kuang, this was a job he had been doing since his debut in 1967 with the Chang Cheh directed classic, One-Armed Swordsman and by the time this film had come about, Kuang had written well over 90 films – most of which were for the Shaw Brothers studio, and many that were for director Chang Cheh. As well as a few small roles in Hong Kong movies over the years, Ni Kuang has proven to be one of the industries most successful writers with over 300 published novels and 400 films scripts completed over a few decades. It's also worth noting that this, along with Boxer Rebellion made the following year, would be one of the last films that would see Leung work as a choreographer for Chang Cheh – soon going off to become a hugely successful and highly regarded director himself...

While it's safe to say that Disciples Of Shaolin is a Shaw Brothers film of significance, it still didn't wow me as much as I thought it would have, but I can totally appreciate the film for what it is and actually enjoyed the fact that it was a little more mature and different than the majority of Chang Cheh films from this period. All in all, it's definitely worth a watch and has never looked better than this Blu-ray release from 88 Films – or that from German label The Vengeance Pack, respectively!

Overall: A well-directed tale that gives Alexander Fu Sheng that chance to shine, Disciples Of Shaolin is a Shaw Brothers classic that is worth the watch!

88 Films Blu-ray Extras: Slipcase with New Artwork by R.P. Kung Fu Bob O'Brien, Extensive Booklet Notes, Double-sided Fold-out Poster, HD Remaster from Original 35mm Negatives, Audio Commentary with Mike Leeder & Arne Venema, Audio Commentary with Samm Deighan, Interview with Jamie Luk, Trailer, Reversible Sleeve with Original Hong Kong Poster Artwork

The Vengeance Pack Blu-ray Mediabook Extras: Documentary on Chang Cheh, Elegant Trails Featurette on Fu Sheng, VHS Tribute on Fu Sheng, VHS Opening Sequence, Trailers, Music Video – Requiem, Photo Gallery (Plus matching DVD)

Watch my unboxing video of this 88 Films release HERE and of The Vengeance Pack release HERE

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THE DRAGON FIGHTER

(Hong Kong 1990) 

Original Title: Dei Tau Lung (aka) Lethal Panther 2: Hard To Die

Directed by Tony Liu Produced by Lee Yuk Hing Action by Chui Fat Starring: Sibelle Hu, Michiko Nishiwaki, Alex Fong, Alex Man, Francis Ng, Carrie Ng, Eddy Ko, Lee Wing Ho, Mark Houghton, Shum Wai, Kam Hing Yin, Mak Wai Cheung, Tin Ching, Steve Tartalia Reviewing: Spectrum Films French Blu-ray Release Genres: Action / Martial Arts / Thriller

Rating - 3.5 / 5

Spectrum Films Blu-ray Synopsis: Alex Man stars as a petty crook whose only friend is a kid named Little Monster. One day, he is killed by a gangster who works for Dragon's Head, the godfather of the biggest criminal organization. Alex then teams up with Miss Ho, a super cop, and Jessica, a Japanese woman dressed in black as a masked heroine, whose father was killed by Dragon Head. This unlikely trio will then bring down the gang, eliminating all of their men. (93 Mins)

Views: Tony Liu's super-fun crime thriller tells the tale of a small-time crook and buffoon (Alex Man) whose only friend is a child known as Little Monster. After the kid is killed by the man of a feared gangster known as Dragon Head, Alex forms an unlikely team of avengers that includes a formidable police woman and a powerhouse Japanese female fighter. Each of them have lost someone close because of the gangster, and together they set out to bring him down – no matter how many of his men get in the way! Like the majority of Tony's movies, The Dragon Fighter entertains with a paper-thin plot that is saved by some balls-to-the-wall crazy action and stunt-work from all involved. While Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima are missed and could easily have made this another classic team-up, I must admit that it was nice to see (and somewhat a change of pace) to have the likes of Michiko Nishiwaki and Carrie Ng join Sibelle Hu as the leading action starlets. Much like Angel Terminators 2 and Devil Hunters, The Dragon Fighter is packed out with gangsters in suits, girls with guns, and fast fight choreography that oozes early 90s Hong Kong cinema. Of course, all of this is backed by a great cast and a score that reminded me a lot of Yuen Woo Ping's Donnie Yen led action-flicks, Tiger Cage 2 and In The Line Of Duty 4...

Alex Man, who was trying to match his previous years projects with the same amount of films (12) in 1988 and '89 including Crocodile Hunter, China White, The Last Duel, Framed, and Tony Liu's Devil Hunters, plays a little against type as the daft small-time crook. He still gets to join in with the action here-and-there, with his character bringing the majority of the comedy element to the film right through to the final scene. Miss Hu, who once again gets artfully doubled for many of her more tricky moves, looks great and still manages to pull off some nice kicks during her many action scenes – impressing with a dangerous fight scene that takes place upon a moving crane-lorry. I've always been a huge fan of Sibelle ever since I saw her in the classic My Lucky Stars and Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars, as well as the Jackie Chan produced Top Squad – better known as The Inspector Wears Skirts – alongside Cynthia Rothrock. She's always been a treat to watch, and has been in some fantastic titles over the years through to her retirement from the industry in the late 1990s after a role in Yuen Woo Ping's Tai Chi 2/Tai Chi Boxer, and a lesser-known mainland production called The Rising Sun & A Sudden Clap Of Thunder in the year of Hong Kong's handover. Carrie Ng gets a fun role as Jessica, the girlfriend of Alex Fong who gets to kick, flip, and shoot her way through the film. Ng had been working in the Hong Kong industry for less than a decade by this stage, appearing in titles such as City On Fire, To Err Is Humane, Call Girl '88, Fury, Gunmen, Diary Of A Big Man, and much more. 1990 would see her explode onto the scene with roles in memorable films like Skinny Tiger Fatty Dragon, The Dragon From Russia, Return Engagement, Blood Stained Tradewind, and this. The great Francis Ng seems to get a kick from playing slimy characters, and while he doesn't play a character here that's half as twisted as he was in Devil Hunters, he still comes across as a guy you just love to hate. It's crazy to think that he had only been on the scene for a few years by this stage, with The Dragon Fighter coming in as his 9th film at the time, and has since went on to star in a host of great titles and make a name for himself as one of Hong Kong's most prolific actors with over 160 roles to date. Much like Francis, Alex Fong was only hitting his 10th or 11th title with The Dragon Fighter although had already made quite the impression with his roles in the Iron Angels Trilogy alongside Moon Lee. Eddy Ko plays gangster boss Dragon Head, and while he doesn't get to bust any moves as such, Ko joins in for some of the wild gunplay on offer before going out with a bang in an OTT car stunt. But it has to be Japanese body builder Michiko Nishiwaki who steals the show with some bright green dungarees, a rocket launcher, and plenty of slick moves. Although she made her highly memorable debut 5 years before in My Lucky Stars alongside Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, and her co-star Sibelle Hu, Michiko actually only starred in another four (Hong Kong) titles before this including In The Line Of Duty 3, the underrated City Cops, Princess Madam, and the classic God Of Gamblers. While it may seem that she appeared in a hundred films from there on in, Michiko actually only starred in just over 20 Hong Kong films before disappearing from the scene in the mid-90s to go West where she would work as a stunt-woman on Hollywood projects like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Blade, Man On The Moon, Charlies Angels, Rush Hour 2, Kill Bill 1 & 2, Mission: Impossible 3, and more. Her role in The Dragon Fighter is definitely something a little different from what fans had seen her play previously, and more than proves how much of an action starlet she really is when it comes to her fight scenes. Along with stars such as Shun Wai, Kam Hing Yin, Tin Ching, and Mak Wai Cheung, Western fan favourites Mark Houghton and Steve Tartalia also pop-up for a brief fight scene.

I must admit, I am a fan of director Tony Liu's work. From his early days at Shaw Brothers with Holy Flame Of The Martial World to Bastard Swordsman and its sequel, and Hwang Jang Lee classics like Hell's Windstaff and Tiger Over Wall, to his more modern works such as this and Killer Angels, Angel Terminators 2, The Big Deal, Dreaming The Reality, Holy Virgin Vs The Evil Dead, The Dragon Fighter, and others. Of course, Liu had been acting well before his directorial debut of Tough Guy/The Black Dragon in 1974, starring in films such as The Great Plot, The Inn Of Mercy, and The Invincible Iron Palm. It was probably because of these bit-player roles that Liu decided to start writing and directing his own, giving him the chance to become more of a star and get stuck into the action. His first few films as a director (after Tough Guy) included Trail Of The Dragon, The Black Dragon's Revenge, and Magic Curse while still appearing in other films such as Action Tae Kwon Do, Bruce Lee & I, The Himalayan, Iron Fisted Monk, Broken Oath, Thunder Run (alongside Ray Lui), and many more over the years. He is joined by Tsui Fat once again as the action choreographer. Tsui was the director of 13 Cold Blooded Eagles and an actor of over 150 films which range from his days at the Shaw Brothers studios through to many of Tony Liu's directed flicks. Apart from his vast acting career, Fat would also be well known to fans of Hong Kong cinema for his action choreography on many Hong Kong films. This began on early classics such as the awesome Five Superfighters, The Fighting Fool, The Master, Kung Fu Vs. Yoga, and the patchwork Fearless Hyena 2. As the modern-age crept in, Tsui continued his work as an action-director for Tony Liu's Killer Angels and Devil Hunters, as well as earlier Donnie Yen vehicles such as Crystal Hunt, Cheetah On Fire, and Holy Virgin Versus The Evil Dead – some of which he also co-directed. Between them both, Liu and Fat present a fast paced and energetic piece with The Dragon Fighter that boasts a great cast, and some very memorable action scenes and martial arts battles!

Overall: Packed with wild action, great martial arts battles, and a great cast, The Dragon Fighter makes for a fun watch more than once!

Spectrum Films Blu-ray Extras: Introduction by Arnuad Lanuque, Video Essay by Julien Seveon, Trailer

Watch my unboxing video of this Spectrum Films release HERE

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DREADNAUGHT

(Hong Kong 1981) 

Original Title: Yong Zhe Wu Ju

Directed by Yuen Woo Ping Produced by Raymond Chow Action by The Yuen Clan Starring: Yuen Biao, Leung Kar Yan, Yuen Shun Yi, Lily Li, Philip Ko, Kwan Tak Hing, Fung Hak On, Tong Ching, Fan Mei Sheng, Yuen Cheung Yan, Brandy Yuen, Danny Chow, Yuen Qiu, San Kuai Reviewing: Eureka Video UK Blu-ray Release Genres: Traditional Kung Fu / Comedy

Rating - 4.5 / 5

Eureka Blu-ray Synopsis: Directed by legendary action choreographer Yuen Woo Ping (The Matrix; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Dreadnaught expertly blends majestic action sequences with superb physical comedy, courtesy of stars Yuen Biao, Bryan Leung Kar Yan, and Yuen Shun Yee. A violent criminal known only as White Tiger (Yuen Shun Yee; Iron Monkey) is hiding amongst a theatre troupe, murdering anyone who discovers his identity (as well as anyone who happens to annoy him). Mousy, a timid laundry man (Yuen Biao; Project A), crosses paths with White Tiger several times but always manages to escape. When the killer instead targets his friend (Bryan 'Beardy' Leung; Warriors Two),Mousy must overcome his cowardly nature and acquire the skills necessary to defeat the White Tiger. Notable for being the final film in which Kwan Tak Hing portrayed folk hero Wong Fei Hung (and, oddly enough, for its famous laundry scene being directly referenced un Batman Forever), Dreadnaught is a cult favourite amongst martial arts fans, and Eureka Classics is proud to present the film from a brand new 2K restoration! (95 Mins)

Hong Kong Legends DVD Synopsis: Action maestro Yuen Biao (Project A) stars opposite veteran star Kwan Tak Hing (75 years old and lethally fast), who reprises the role of the legendary Wong fei Hung in a wonderful mixture of breathtaking physical comedy and genuine chills. Biao is 'Mousy' and is every bit as shy and retiring as his name suggests but what he doesn't realise is that his sister has been secretly training him in Eagle Claw, which might just explain the inovative way he dries his laundry! It's also just as well as his encounter with the psychotic White Tiger (Yuen Shun Yi) could end his washing days for good! It takes the combined fight skills of Mousy, Wong Fei Hung and star student Ah Foon to take on White Tiger in a film that will delight fans of 'Drunken Master' and 'Snake In The Eagles Shadow'. (92 Mins)

Made In Hong Kong VHS Synopsis: Yuen Shen is Tiger, a psychotic killer. The murder of his wife does not improve his mental state, but sends him on a death trip. Hell-bent on slaughter, he targets hapless laundry boy Mousey (former stuntman and choreographer par excellence Yuen Biao). Directed with customary genius by veteran Jackie Chan helmer Yuen Woo Ping, 'Dreadnaught' delivers matchless kick-ass sex-drenched kung fu action by the minute. (96 Mins)

Views: The illustrious Wong Jing pens the story for this classic kung-fu comedy that sees Yuen Woo Ping return to the world of Wong Fei Hung for the fourth time as a director, with the wonderful Kwan Tak Hing reprising his role from The Magnificent Butcher from only a couple of years prior – his final role as the legendary hero after portraying him almost 100 times since the late 1940s. The incredible Yuen Biao plays Mousy, a timid laundry man who has some unfortunate clashes with a violent criminal called White Tiger. Hiding amongst a theatre troupe to avoid the law-men who seek him, White Tiger cripples and kills anyone who gets in his way with his anger often triggered by the sound of bells that remind him of his late wife. But after he kills Mousy's closest friend Ah Foon - a pupil of Wong Fei Hung - the scared fighter is forced to throw his fear aside and take-on the killer so that he can seek revenge!

I love Dreadnaught! The first time I had ever seen anything from the film was in the early 90s documentary Deadliest Art: The Best Of Martial Arts Films, and incredible production that highlighted some of the finest moments from Hong Kong cinema to that point – most of which were produced by Golden Harvest. Dreadnaught always excited me as it highlighted scenes such as Fung Hak On's killer tailor measuring up Wong Fei Hung, Yuen Shun Yi's attack on Leung Kar Yan while dressed as the two-faced ghost, and Yuen Biao's incredibly skilful way of doing laundry – a scene that would later be re-worked for Chris O'Donnell as Robin in Batman Forever. In the late 90s, Dreadnaught got a wonderful VHS release in the UK courtesy of Made In Hong Kong, followed by DVD release almost a decade later by Hong Kong Legends. But my latest addition is on Blu-ray from Eureka Video that presents this classic flick in a wonderful 2K restoration, giving me the best viewing experience I have ever had of this film to date. Having made his directorial debut with the incredibly popular Snake In The Eagles Shadow just a few years before, Yuen Woo Ping offered up something a little different with Dreadnaught from all the other titles he had directed beforehand. It was clear that he had a love for Wong Fei Hung themed films, although it would be over a decade later from this before he would return to direct the character in the awesome Iron Monkey and underrated Hero Among Heroes. Of course, over the same period Woo Ping would lend his talents as an action-choreographer for films such as Last Hero In China and the ever-popular Once Upon A Time In China series that still involved Wong Fei Hung. I always felt that Dreadnaught was very similar in tone to Jackie Chan's amazing kung-fu comedy, The Young Master, a film that was made just a year before and featured a number of Dreadnaught co-stars including Yuen Biao, Lily Li, Fung Hak On, Fan Mei Sheng, and others. And while Woo Ping opts to lessen the kung-fu action for a more atmospheric piece (offering up scenes of tension more akin to that of a slasher flick), he still manages to provide a hugely entertaining piece that is still as entertaining today as it was over 40 years ago.

Yuen Biao is just amazing as Mousy, the scared-but-very-athletic laundry boy. Although he doesn't get to take part in a lot of kung-fu action, fans are still treated to an amazing display of physicality and comic acting by the young star. Having started as a child-actor alongside his brothers Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung (along with a number of other stars from the Peking Opera School), Biao went on to appear in over 50 films before getting his big break in Sammo Hung's fantastic Knockabout. From Fist Of Fury and The Valiant Ones to The Magic Blade, The Man From Hong Kong and Hand Of Death to Enter The Fat Dragon, it was clear that the little dragon had something special which was very quickly recognised by fans of Hong Kong cinema after his roles in the aforementioned Knockabout, The Magnificent Butcher, The Young Master, and this – as well as his outstanding performance in the epic Prodigal Son which also came out in 1981. Biao is joined once again by the wonderful Leung Kar Yan after the pair shared the screen in Sammo Hung's brilliant Enter The Fat Dragon and Knockabout, as well as Warriors Two that saw Yuen Biao in a smaller bit-part. Kar Yan plays Ah Foon, one of Wong Fei Hung's most respected students and the character that Yuen Biao plays in Once Upon A Time In China. Of course, Kar Yan does a fantastic job once again – getting to bust a move more than once which is always a treat to watch. But for me, it has to be Yuen Shun Yi who steals the show as the psychotic White Tiger. Having joined the film industry with his brothers in the later 1960s – all of whom were following in their famed father's footsteps – Shun Yi appeared in well over 100 films before gaining bigger roles after his brother (Woo Ping) took to directing. A bit-part in Drunken Master was followed by the lead role in its unofficial 'official' sequel Dance Of The Drunk Mantis, with roles in films such as Six Directions Boxing, The Buddhist Fist, and Two Toothless Tigers, following. As White Tiger, Shun Yi gets to go wild and delivers a brilliant performance of a martial-maniac who is happy to destroy anything or anyone in his path – even ripping the heads of live chickens when they fly in his face. It's also worth noting that the lovely Yuen Qiu – who made a return to the industry after playing the role of the landlady in Kung Fu Hustle – appears as his wife before she is killed by the very cops that want to take them in. They are joined by the aforementioned Kwan Tak Hing as Wong Fei Hung, the awesome Philip Ko Fei as Tam King in yet another villainous role, Lily Li as Yuen Biao's sister who has been secretly training him in Eagle Claw kung-fu, Fan Mei Sheng as Marshal Pao – backed by his team of cops which include Brandy Yuen, Yuen Cheung Yan,and Yue Tau Wan, and the brilliant Fung Hak On who plays the killer tailor hired to get rid of Wong Fei Hung (a scene that I have always loved). Jackie Chan Stunt Team member Danny Chow plays Gorgeous Koon, the leading man of the theatre troupe and popular actor San Kuai appears as a poorly fighter who opts to give Wong Fei Hung a bit of bother for a quick fix.

As with the majority of Yuen Woo Ping's self directed flicks, he is joined by his brothers in front of and behind the camera with the Yuen Clan handling the films action-choreography. While Dreadnaught was still an early production from their filmography, the team had already highly impressed the world with their work on Jackie Chan's Snake In The Eagles Shadow and Drunken Master, Dance Of The Drunk Mantis, The Magnificent Butcher, and The Buddhist Fist – all of which still sit as genuine classics of Hong Kong cinema today. In Dreadnaught, the Yuen Clan deliver an interesting mix of martial arts action from the wonderfully choreographed kung-fu fights of Wong Fei Hung to the brutal moves and attacks of White Tiger – but it works, with many of the fight scenes being hailed as some of Woo Ping's finest work which gives his audience plenty of great moments to remember, including an inventive lion dance and brutal finale that allows Yuen Biao to let loose as he faces-off against the psychotic White Tiger. All-in-all, Dreadnaught is a classic slice of Hong Kong cinema that is still as entertaining today as it was when I first saw it – blending highly inventive kung-fu action with a 70s-style slasher flick that highly entertains!

Overall: Brilliantly directed and hugely entertaining, Dreadnaught is a fantastic entry to the filmography of Wong Fei Hung that should be seen by any fan of Hong Kong cinema!

Eureka Video Blu-ray Extras: 2 K Restoration, Audio Commentary with Mike Leeder & Arne Venema, Audio Commentary with Frank Djeng & Michael Worth, Archival Interview with Lily Li, Trailers

Hong Kong Legends DVD Extras: Who Is Wong Fei Hung Featurette, Interview with Lily Li, Trailers

Watch my unboxing video of the Eureka Video release HERE

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