China is under the rule of the Ching dynasty, who send out assassins to kill anyone whochallenges the regime. Greatest of these assassins is the blind master of the flying guillotine. Hesets out to kill the One-Armed Boxer (don’t ask me why all these guys have disabilities). Thecharacters come together at a huge martial arts tournament (this is where Mortal Kombatcomes from, kiddies). The plot is no more developed than that of a typical porno. The film’sreason for be…ng is the fight scenes, and these are fun (if extremely silly). This is a seminalmoment of 70s action cinema and essential grindhouse entertainment. And, in retrospect, givenits importance, I’m upgrading my initial rating somewhat.
The soundtrack is mono, and Disc 2 comes in a dubbed English version (put together fromvarious sources, and subtitles where no English sound exists, since the film was butchered forNorth American release), while Disc 1 is in Mandarin (and it is a relief to see the actors lipmovements match their dialogue). The soundtrack too is partly made up of music from a later,North American release (which would explain the presence of Tangerine Dream).
Assembling a complete print of these exploitation films is rather difficult, so the fact that thiswas done at all is great, and so some allowance should be made for print damage. Damage thereis: flicker, spliciness, some dirty frames and scratches. The colour varies in quality, but at its bestis very good. At its worst, it looks horrible, but conjures up the atmosphere of watching it in adown-at-the-heels theatre. The picture is an improvement over the earlier release as it is nowanamorphic.
The commentary is provided by film critics Wade Major (Box Office Magazine), Andy Klein(New York Times) and Alex Luu. This is NOT the same commentary as on the earlier disc, andhats off to Pathfinder for not turning this into a cheap exercises in double-dipping. Theirdiscussion is just as informative as before. Some of the extras are the same as on the other disc:bios of star/director Jimmy Wang Yu and fight choreographer Lau Kar Leung, a still gallery, andthree trailers: the Chinese export version, the US theatrical release, and the US restoration. Theother new features are a couple of festival interviews with Jimmy Wang Yu. There is also a niftylittle insert booklet. The menu has a scored and animated intro and main page, and scoredsecondary pages.
Non-stop chop socky, and good campy fun, all the better to be seen in a complete, subtitledversion. Is this the definitive release? We shall see.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Interviews with Jimmy Wang Yu
- Insert Booklet
- Still Gallery