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Issue #199a HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES February 16th, 2004

To Kill A Jaguar
(1977; Shaw Brothers)

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

Cantonese: Juet bat dai tau
Mandarin: Jue bu di tou
English: Absolutely Will Not Hang My Head

Set in early 20th century Shanghai, this Hua Shan actioner stars former Golden Harvest regular Nora Miao Ke-hsiu as Bobo, a village girl who has journeyed to the big city in search of her father. Not long after her arrival, Bobo witnesses a gang fight dominated by a man she was friends with as a child. Now known as Jaguar (Tsung Hua), he works as a bodyguard for mob boss Kam, who is having a row with one of his partners (Fan Mui-sang). Jaguar makes trouble at one of the man's casinos as a part of a plan to smooth over the situation. Ace gunman Ko Tang (Ling Yun) is also in town and the two strike up an alliance to take over Kam's empire. Jaguar's lust for power soon alienates Bobo, who realizes that she was simply a pawn in his plan to gain control of the Shanghai underworld. Held a virtual prisoner, Bobo's one hope for revenge is Luo Lie (Liu Yung), another friend from childhood and now her fiancee, currently imprisoned in Germany.

The setting and premise create expectations that the film fails to deliver on. Everything seems perfunctory and small scale, from the action (choreographed by Yuen Cheung-yan), to the underworld machinations, to the few outdoor areas of Shanghai we actually get to see. While the project was conceived as a B-picture from the start, there never seems to be enough extras or pomp to convince the viewer that these men are the movers and shakers of a criminal empire. This would be less bothersome if the story were engaging but Tsung and Liu lack the necessary charisma and the love triangle conflict at the center of the story is the stuff of tired melodrama. The sole interesting character is played by the ever-suave Ling Yun (image), whose character is far less transparent and predictable. Johnny Wang Lung-wei, Chan Shen, Jamie Luk Kim-ming, and Yum Yum Shaw are also featured and look fast for Yuen Cheung-yan, Corey Yuen Kwai, and Dai Sai Aan among the background henchmen taking their lumps in the various fight sequences.

Cover art courtesy Intercontinental.

Nora Miao. Image courtesy Intercontinental.
Intercontinental #101489 (Hong Kong label)

Dolby Digital 5.1

Post-synced Mandarin Language Track

Optional Subtitles in English, Traditional Chinese, Malaysian, and Indonesian

12 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With Clips

Enhanced for 16:9 Displays

Letterboxed (2.35:1)

Coded for Region 3 Only

NTSC Format

90 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Contains moderate violence, mild sexual violence, nudity, and coarse language

DVD menu courtesy Intercontinental.

Ontario: R
Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]

Some digital video noise reduction instability is occasionally evident and contrasts are a little soft but this is a handsome enough rendering overall. Unfortunately, there are points where footage seems to be missing. Most of these are brief enough to suggest that censors ordered the removal of a few frames but, at 56:56, the continuity of the scene in question is very noticeably damaged. Not having watched the movie before, I can only speculate, but it almost seems as if there was a stretch of film that Celestial could not restore, so they simply cut it out. The re-mixed audio is a bit flat with some unnecessary atmospheric foley FX providing more distraction than benefit. The English translation is not especially good, obscuring the point of some conversations. The standard extras are present and accounted for: bios/filmographies, photo galleries, and video promo spots.

TO KILL A JAGUAR is available at Poker Industries.

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