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.
The Hell's Wind Staff
(1979; Yuk Long Movie Co.)
Alternate English titles: THE DRAGON AND TIGER KIDS and HELL'Z WINDSTAFF
Cover art courtesy World.
Definitely Not Recommended
Kung fu super villain Hwang Jang-li (known among fans as "Silver
Fox," the killer he first portrayed in THE SECRET RIVALS) is the
main attraction in this above average period effort, which was reportedly
adapted from a comic book. Impudent but likeable kung fu students Tiger
Wong (Meng Yuan-man) and Stone Dragon (Mang Hoi) have the potential to
be great fighters but seem more interested in driving their teachers to
distraction. Unfortunately for both, their masters are on to them, with
Ching (Jason Pai Piao) making life especially miserable for Tiger. Trouble
emerges in the form of slave traders who dupe innocent townspeople into
a making trip to Borneo from which they will never return. Tiger and Dragon
bust up the operation but Tiger's father and Ching are murdered in retribution.
The pair seek refuge with Dragon's teacher (Kwan Young-moon), who agrees
to help teach them "The White Dragon Fist" and "The Paddle
Staff" styles. Only these techniques, when used in conjunction, possess
the power to overcome the villains' leader (Hwang), who is master of the
legendary "Devil's Rod" pole fighting style.
Hwang Jang-li. Image courtesy World.
Co-directed by Lu Chin-ku (a Shaw Brothers alumni responsible for such
favorites as THE BASTARD SWORDSMAN and HOLY FLAME OF THE MARTIAL WORLD)
and Tony Wong Yuk-long, THE HELL'S WIND STAFF features terrific acrobatics
from its two stars and invigorating training sequences in the classic
old school style. Although he does comparatively little of his trademark
kicking, Hwang proves to be exceptionally good with a pole and the action
(the work of Hsu Hsia, Corey Yuen Kwai, Chin Yuet-sang, Yuen Shun-yee,
and Yuen Chun-wei) is sufficiently diverse to avoid repetition (the final
showdown is long but consistently exciting). The humor is never too abrasive
and even the dubbing is not as annoying as usual. The soundtrack includes
music swiped from Tangerine Dream's soundtrack for SORCERER.
World #WVDVD-E119 [U.S. Label]
Dolby Digital 2.0
Dubbed In English
8 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Stills
Fullscreen (cropped from 2.35:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
Contains mid-range martial arts violence and brief language
DVD menu courtesy World.
Board Ratings and Consumer Advice
Great Britain: 18
Alas, this is a rotten DVD. The 2.35:1 scope frame is cropped to
fullscreen and the image is soft, with consistent grain and a few
blooming whites. Compounding these problems is the fact that the
master has clearly been derived from a VHS tape, which suffers from
periodic dropouts and even some heavier damage. Like the majority
of World discs released thus far, there is also a one second pause
at the beginning of every chapter, a pretty unforgivable mastering
blunder. Another technical foul-up needlessly splits the disc into
two halves; the only way you can jump ahead to chapters 5-8 is by
scanning or through the menu options. Similarly, once you get into
the second half, you can only access the first four chapters through
the aforementioned method. The print is heavily speckled but the
damage is not really any more extensive than one normally finds
on independent films of this era. The sound levels shift once in
a while but the track is otherwise adequate. The only extra is a
letterboxed Mandarin language / English subtitled trailer for JACKIE
CHAN: THE INVINCIBLE FIGHTER, a compilation of clips from ten of
the star's early movies.
THE HELL'S WIND STAFF is available at Poker