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January 14th, 2002 Issue #91

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 Magnificent
(1978; Asso Asia Films Production)

Cover art courtesy Crash Cinema.

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

Cantonese: Lung ying dou sau Kam Chung-kwan
Mandarin: Long xing dao shou Jin Zhongjun
English: Dragon Form Sabre Master Kam Chung-kwan or Dragon Form Sabre Master Jin Zhongjun


Seeking to restore the Ching Dynasty to power, General Na Lan Tien Hsiung (Chen Sing) conspires with the prosperous Lord Lo to ferment revolution. Commissioner Yao Shan-tien (Carter Wong Kar-ta) is dispatched to worn Lo not to follow through with his plans, under pain of death, prompting the Lord to flee. En route to his destination, Lo is kidnapped by Na Lan's men. In actuality, the General has no interest in helping the Chings and simply wants Lo's emblem of authority, which will allow him to start his own regime. Yao and associate Fu Fung (Casanova Wong / Ca Sa-fa) are attacked by assassins but manage to escape unscathed, and the former is able to convince Lo's daughter, Princess Wan Ying (Lung Chun-erh, billed here as Doris Chen), that Na Lan is not to be trusted. Although the enemy troops are easily overcome, Yao and the princess must master a specialized form of attack in order to defeat Na Lan's invincible Golden Bell technique.

Lung Chun-ehr. Image courtesy Crash Cinema.

Considering that it was produced by Joseph Lai and Tomas Tang, Asia's unrivalled kings of schlock, this Taiwanese period effort is not bad at all, offering solid production values, some enjoyably exotic stances, and pleasing training sequences that concentrate on pressure point attack methods. There is some obvious editorial cheating early on and a sequence where Fu is attacked by Wan's guards (disguised as peasant women carrying vegetables) is lifted right out of the Japanese LONE WOLF AND CUB series. However, director Chen Shao-peng presents the action with panache, particularly an exciting battle in the hold of a ship (wherein Wong battles Lung and the aforementioned escorts), and the location for the final confrontation is a bit more visually interesting than the "fight in an open field in the middle of nowhere" finale found in far too many old school films. The stock score includes a cue that will be instantly familiar to fans of THE HILARIOUS HOUSE OF FRIGHTENSTEIN.

DVD Specs:

Crash Cinema #CCD-115 (U.S. Label)
Dolby Digital 2.0
Mandarin Language
Permanent Chinese and English Subtitles
12 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Clips
Letterboxed (2.43:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
92 Minutes
Contains moderate martial arts violence

DVD menu courtesy Crash Cinema.

Film Board Ratings and Consumer Advice

Not available


THE MAGNIFICENT is derived from an old 35mm print with the original bilingual subtitles. The reel change points are very worn but the majority of the presentation is fairly clean, with attractive hues and decent contrasts (though one night battle is too dark to make out). Although presented at a very wide 2.43:1, the frame is insufficiently matted, causing the splice line to be visible at some shot change points. The audio has all the usual upper and lower end limitations of old school kung fu films and is best kept to a modest volume. There are no extras. The disc was produced and authored by Video Transfer Inc.

THE MAGNIFICENT is available at Poker Industries.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2002. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

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