Issue #251a         HOME          Contact Us        BACK ISSUES          February 14th, 2005

Hong Kong Digital is sponsored by Poker Industries. Please see the Hong Kong Digital home page for a special offer from Poker Industries to Hong Kong Digital readers.

Martial Club
(1981; Shaw Brothers)

Cantonese: Mo goon
Mandarin: Wu guan
English: Martial Art Hall
Alternate English Title: Instructors of Death

 

RATING: 6/10

REVIEW:

Gordon Lau Kar-fai plays Wong Fei-hung (referred to here in Mandarin form as Huang Feihong) in this period effort, which features one of popular villain Johnny Wang Lung-wei's most memorable turns, but still ends up as one of director Lau Kar-leung's lesser Shaw Brothers efforts. Feuding martial arts clans create havoc for Master Huang Qiying/Wong Kei-ying (Ku Feng), while son Feihong and his friend, Yinlin (Mai Te-lo), spend their time unsuccessfully trying to pass themselves off as kung fu experts. Even after being humiliated by a real martial arts instructor, the pair continue to try and best one another in public by hiring opponents that will take a dive. Thanks to a misunderstanding, Yinlin is seriously injured by Shan (Wang), a kung fu man from the Jing Wu school in the north. When Yinlin has his leg broken by thugs, this is just the start of an on-going plot to besmirch the reputation of both his and Feihong's schools.

Lau Kar-leung Gordon Lau (left), Mai Te-lo Ku Feng (left), Gordon Lau

While it sidesteps the usual tired revenge theme, the storyline manages to be both contrived and predictable. Fortunately, as one has come to expect from Lau Kar-leung's work, the kung fu is beautifully choreographed, with Gordon Lau and Kara Hui Ying-hung coming off particularly well. In addition to displaying fine technique, Johnny Wang gives a wonderful performance as the guileless but principled Master Shan, a character quite far removed from his usual ruthless, single-minded Manchu villains. His climactic duel with Gordon Lau (which starts off in a "clandestine" manner, a la DIRTY HO, before ending with some prolonged, close quarters fighting in a very tight alleyway) is cleverly conceived and executed. Chu Te-hu and Wilson Tong Wai-shing co-star, and Hsiao Hou appears as one of Feihong’s fellow students.

Johnny Wang Kara Hui (left), Gordon Lau Gordon Lau


PRESENTATION:

The anamorphic presentation looks clean and colorful and restores a brief prologue cut from World Northal’s English-dubbed version (in it, Lau Kar-leung discusses how improper conduct during lion dance competitions can lead to conflict between schools). The re-mix really overdoes it with the foley FX (the applause is far too loud) and adds some unnecessary music, but remains tolerable. The usual Celestial supplementary material is included.

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Intercontinental Video Ltd. To read captions, hover mouse over image.


Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2005. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: Contact Us

DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC Region 3 Only
  • Intercontinental Video Ltd. #103728
  • Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional Chinese
  • 12 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (2.35:1)
  • 103 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Great Britain: X (cut)
  • Ontario: PG
  • Quebec: 13+
  • Contains moderate violence

FILM REVIEW RATINGS KEY:

  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful