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Issue #144 HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES January 27th, 2003

Martial Arts Master Wong Fei Hung
(1992; Great Audience Film & Television Production)

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

Cantonese: Wong Fei-hung hai lit ji yat doi si
Mandarin: Huang Feihong xi lie zhi yi dai shi
English: "Wong Fei-hung Series: One Generation Teacher" or "Huang Feihong Series: One Generation Teacher"

Alternate English Title: Great Hero of China

A low-budget Taiwanese attempt to cash in on Tsui Hark's ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA series, this minor period effort has some quality martial arts but no originality or excitement. Portrayed this time out by Chin Kar-lok, Wong Fei-hung (identified in the subtitles as both "Wang Fei-hung" and "Hwang Fei-hung") is an undisciplined young layabout, always driving his aged father, Wong Kei-ying, to distraction. A few days after the elder Wong finally passes away, his old enemy, Japanese fighter Jiubinku Kyoto (Lam Ching-ying), returns to challenge Kei-ying, as part of his methodical plan to defeat all of China's top masters. Furious that he has been denied another chance to battle Kei-ying, Jiubinku smashes the dead man's spirit tablet and murders one of Po Chi Lam clinic's senior students.

Seeking to exploit the Chinese further, British representatives (in league with the disreputable Master Ha Tieh, played by Suen Kwok-ming) open an opium den in the town, earning the instant disfavor of Fei-hung, who proceeds to demolish the place. In spite of his honorable intentions, Fei-hung is ordered by the mayor (Kwan Hoi-san) to apologize to the British, a veritable death sentence, but finds an unexpected ally in the form of Jiubinku. The Japanese master's motives are simple: he does not want anyone to kill Fei-hung until he has had a chance to defeat him in combat.

Chin and Lam display some good form and the action is choreographed with a fair amount of chutzpah but the staging is comparatively primitive (vaseline is put on the lens at times, in order to hide the wires at the top of the screen) and the story enveloping the action is pedestrian, with one major subplot left unresolved. The director and some of the leads worked together again on SHAOLIN AVENGERS (aka KUNG FU KID). That film is about two other great Chinese martial heroes, Fong Sai-yuk and Hung Hei-kwun, and was apparently produced in tandem with this one.

Cover art courtesy Tai Seng.

Chin Kar-lok (left) and Lam Ching-ying (right). Image courtesy Tai Seng.

Lam Ching-Ying. Image courtesy Tai Seng.
Tai Seng #36994 (U.S. Label)

Dolby Digital 2.0

Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and Cambodian Language Tracks (all post-synched)

Permanent English and Traditional Chinese Language Tracks

8 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With (Tiny) Stills

Letterboxed (1.75:1)

Coded for ALL Regions

NTSC Format

93 Minutes

Contains moderate martial arts violence

DVD menu courtesy Tai Seng.

Great Britain: 12
Hong Kong: II
Singapore: PG

Tai Seng's presentation sports the original Chinese/English theatrical subtitles and is identical to their old Chinese market VHS release and the HK import laserdisc from Universe. The hard matted frame is mildly cropped, occasionally lopping the beginning and end off the English subs. The image is soft and hazy, with weak contrasts, while the audio is adequate. Ric Meyers and Bobby Samuels do a commentary and the track gets off to a stumbling start when the former states that no director is listed and asks anyone who has that information to write in and tell him. Unfortunately, his request comes shortly after the Chinese opening title sequence has concluded with the credit "Director: Lee Chiu." This is a real person, not a pseudonym, and when Meyers says that there is no listing, he means that the name has not been translated in his unacknowledged source of information, The Hong Kong Movie Database. On the plus side, he reads extended quotes from an interesting interview with Chin, where the actor discusses his personal approach to martial arts. Samuels also injects some engaging trivia about Sammo Hung Kam-bo's DON'T GIVE A DAMN, a 1995 film he did with Chin. There are a number of errors in regards to alternate titles and release dates but, overall, this is one of the pair's best discussions to date. The DVD also offers promo spots for other Tai Seng releases. Onscreen English title: MARTIAL ART MASTER WONG FEI HONG (sic). York Home Video has released an English dubbed version of this picture on VHS under the title GREAT HERO OF CHINA.

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E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com