here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography
Hong Kong Digital
is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- a film
reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong
The review for FLYING DAGGER has been excerpted from The Hong Kong
Filmography. Information about the DVD edition, written specifically
for Hong Kong Digital, follows.
(1993; Chang Hong Channel Film and Video Company): 7/10
Cover art courtesy Mei Ah.
San ging do yue fei tin maau
Shen jing dao yu fei tian mao
Crazy Dagger and Flying Sky Cat
Ng Man-tat. Image courtesy Mei Ah.
Cinematographer: Chen Rong-shu
Art Director: Andy Lee Yiu-kwong
Music: Not Original
Writer: Wong Jing
Producer: Mark Wu Dan
Action Director: Ching Siu-tung
Director: Chu Yen-ping
Cast: Tony Leung Kar-fai (Big Dagger), Sharla Cheung Man (Big Bewitchment),
Jacky Cheung Hok-yau (Nine Tails Fox), Maggie Cheung Man-yuk (Flying Cat),
Jimmy Lin Chi-ying (Little Dagger), Gloria Yip Wan-yee (Little Bewitchment),
Ng Man-tat (Leslie Cheung), Yuen King-tan ("Fifth Lady"), Yuen
Cheung-yan ("Never Die") Pauline Chan Po-lin (Evil Lady of Yi-ho)
VHS: Tai Seng, SYS/Youngtze (Dubbed)
LD: Tai Seng
Import LD: Golden Cinema City
Sharla Cheung Man, Tony Leung Ka-fai, and Jimmy Lin Chi-ying
(left to right). Image courtesy Mei Ah.
Although A Home Too Far (1991) and End of the Road (1993) proved him
capable of crafting competent dramatic fare, Taiwanese director Chu Yen-ping
seems more interested in solidifying his position as one of Asia's most
eccentric filmmakers. While this period fantasy-comedy doesn't quite attain
the absurd heights previously scaled by Chu's feminist "Eastern Westerns,"
Golden Queens Commando and Pink Force Commando (both 1984), it is the
director's most entertaining film to date, offering his trademark mix
of frenzied action, off-kilter plotting and broad, scatological comedy.
Bounty hunters Big and Little Flying Dagger and their female counterparts,
Big and Little Bewitchment, manage to put their professional rivalry aside
long enough to pursue the notoriously prehensile criminal, Nine Tails
Fox, and his screeching feline of a wife, Flying Cat. The quartet capture
their quarry but must eventually side with them when they are challenged
by a bizarre array of Chinese and Japanese villains.
Maggie Cheung Man-yuk and Sharla Cheung
Man. Image courtesy Mei Ah.
Flying Dagger takes the low road all the way, yet jokes about lust-inducing
incense and coma-inducing flatulence become strangely endearing when delivered
by such a paramount cast. Martial arts director Ching Siu-tung provides
the kind of high-flying action setpieces that habitual viewers of Chinese
fantasy have come to expect from him, but just as technically impressive
is a lascivious severed hand (inspired by "Thing" from The Addams
Family) that becomes a surprise ally. Good fun. The rousing score consists
almost entirely of stock cues, as well as tracks swiped from A Fish Called
Wanda and Jay Chattaway's soundtrack for Maniac.
Jacky Cheung Hok-Yau. Image courtesy Mei
Mei Ah #DVD-333
Dolby Digital (5.1 and 2.1)
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Optional Subtitles in English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
9 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Still Frames
Coded for ALL Regions
DVD menu courtesy Mei Ah.
In the time since I originally wrote the above review, Mei Ah has
issued this wonderfully nutty feature on DVD. However, if you already
own it on another format, you will probably be more satisfied just
sticking with that version. The source print and transfer on the
new release are good but the image is soft. Unfortunately, that's
a minor complaint compared to the digital compression, which is
quite poor. Never one of Mei Ahs strong points, it is particularly
bothersome here, with frequent smearing and displacement. The problem
intensifies during sequences bathed in smoke or haze -- and this
is a movie filled with such atmospheric touches. The 5.1 re-mix
on the Cantonese track does little beyond adding an echo to the
dialogue; the original mono version is included and preferable.
The Mandarin versions are flat and bass heavy and all three sets
of subtitles are synched to the Cantonese track so, unless you understand
Mandarin, they should be avoided. Mei Ah's English translation differs
from that on the print used for Tai Seng's version, making some
plot points more coherent, while muddling others. The cover lists
director Chu Yen-ping as "Kevin Chu," though Mei Ah's
art department is apparently getting him confused with Kevin Chu
Kar-wang, director of MY WIFE'S LOVER and LOVE IS A FAIRYTALE. There
are no extras or time functions.
PS: In my cast listing above, I neglected to note a cameo appearance
by Lo Lieh as "Die With One Blow," one of The Gods of
Death that Tony Leung Kar-fai and Jimmy Lin battle in the second
reel. Sure enough, he dies after one blow.
Gloria Yip Wan-yee. Image courtesy Mei