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November 19th, 2001 Issue #83

Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- associate editor / film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.

Bruce Lee and Kung Fu Mania

Cover art courtesy GoodTimes.

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended


GoodTimes first released this enjoyable trailer compilation on LP-mode VHS back in 1992 and is now offering a far preferable version on DVD at a bargain price. The program gets off to a pretty weak start with a montage of clips accompanied by that godawful novelty song "Kung Fu Fighting", followed by a 20 or so minute profile of Bruce Lee that consists of the usual clips. Things pick up considerably from this point onwards as we are served up over 30 trailers, from Shaw Brothers classics to cheesy Bruce Lee cash-ins.

In addition to the non-stop martial arts action, featuring favorites like Angela Mao Ying, David Chiang Da-wei, Ti Lung, Jimmy Wang Yu, Alexander Fu Sheng, and The Venoms (but no Jackie Chan disappointingly enough), the spots are also filled with that wonderful 70s hard sell narration, which does its damnedest to separate jaded grindhouse and drive-in patrons from their money. Most of the trailers are slightly abbreviated (usually at the beginning and end), while others are actually TV spots created for World Northal's famous Black Belt Theater packages from the late 70s / early 80s.

From the trailer for THE STRANGER AND THE GUNFIGHTER. Image courtesy GoodTimes.

Here is the line-up in order of appearance, leaving out the spots for THE GREEN HORNET (the 1974 feature compilation of episodes from that series), FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH, and RETURN OF THE DRAGON which appear in the Bruce Lee section:

BRUCE LEE FIGHTS BACK FROM THE GRAVE, DUEL OF THE IRON FIST, THE BLACK DRAGON (this one has been cut, dropping the section where the voiceover artist says "None of that jumpin' around and flyin' through the air because this is the real shit!"), SHADOW OF THE DRAGON (this one is also cut, dropping two instances of nudity), KUNG FU MASTER -- BRUCE LEE STYLE, BRUCE LEE: THE MAN, THE MYTH, DEEP THRUST, THE STRANGER AND THE GUNFIGHTER (the unmistakeable Ted "Lurch" Cassidy narrates this one), TRIPLE IRONS, LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH (the only Japanese film here), THE CHINATOWN KID, THE 5 DEADLY VENOMS, THE DEADLY ANGELS, THE SPEARMAN OF DEATH, THE FOUR ASSASSINS, 10 TIGERS OF KWANGTUNG, THE THREE AVENGERS, 5 MASTERS OF DEATH, THE TATTOO CONNECTION, THE NINJA WARLORD, THE SAVAGE FIVE, THE EXECUTIONERS OF DEATH, THE KID WITH THE GOLDEN ARM, KUNG FU CONSPIRACY, STREET GANGS OF HONG KONG, SLAUGHTER IN SAN FRANCISCO, THE TATTOOED DRAGON, WHEN TAE KWAN DO STRIKES, KILLER FROM SHANTUNG, SHAOLIN CHALLENGES NINJA, THE FLYING GUILLOTINE, CHALLENGE OF THE MASTERS, THE FOUR INVINCIBLES, and BRUCE LEE...HIS LAST DAYS. The edited trailers noted above can be seen in complete form on Sinister Cinema's KUNG FU CLASSICS VOL. 1 ($9.95 -- note that this tape is one of the company's "Video Rest Home" titles which will no longer be offered after this year).

DVD Specs:

GoodTimes #05-81187 [U.S. Label]
Dolby Digital 2.0
English Language
No Subtitles
12 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With (Tiny) Stills
Various Ratios (mostly fullscreen)
Coded for ALL Regions
83 Minutes
Contains non-stop mid-range martial arts violence and mild language

DVD menu courtesy GoodTimes.

Film Board Ratings and Consumer Advice

Not available


Like all trailer compilations, the print and visual quality is all over the place, as are the aspect ratios (the majority of the trailers are in cropped fullscreen). There are predictable fluctuations in the sound but it is workable. Not surprisingly, GoodTimes failed to provide a chapter for every spot, instead breaking the program down into 12 sections with chapter titles that are virtually no help in determining the contents. Still, some DVDs in this price range have no chapters at all, so they are better than nothing. BRUCE LEE AND KUNG FU MANIA is available on-line from various sources for its list price of $US7.49 but has also turned up in major American department stores for as little as $US5. Needless to say, it is worth the meagre investment.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000, 2001. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

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