Issue #252a         HOME          Contact Us        BACK ISSUES          February 21st, 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.

Master of the Flying Guillotine
[2 disc re-issue]
(1976; First Films)

Cantonese: Duk bei kuen wong dai po huet dik ji
Mandarin: Du bei quan wang da po xie di zi
English: One-Armed Fist Master Defeats the Blood Dripper

 

RATING: 7/10

REVIEW:

I reviewed Pathfinder’s initial DVD release of this Jimmy Wang Yu favorite in issue #191a; please consult that write-up for an evaluation of that disc and the film itself.

In honor of the movie’s anniversary (actually a bit pre-mature, as it will not be 30 years until 2006), the company has issued a new double disc set featuring the 93 minute Mandarin edition and 90 minute English dub on separate platters. Both share the same anamorphic transfer, which is very much inferior to the old 4:3 letterbox edition. The restored negative picked a great deal of additional wear in the interim, thanks to First Films’ use of it to create new 35mm prints. Ideally, the company should have made a back-up negative beforehand, but they evidently wanted to do it as cheaply as possible, so we are now back to square one with no decent elements left for this movie. In order to try and mask the extra damage, a great deal of digital video noise reduction has been employed to clean the image up, resulting in a very soft, hazy picture. There are also sequences where the colors are quite noticeably out-of-whack. The climactic fight is also marred by numerous instances where frames have been repeated to mask damage, badly effecting the fluidity of the combatants’ movements. While the 4:3 transfer certainly displayed problems, it was crisp and satisfying, considering the condition of the elements. The 16:9 transfer, alas, looks more like a budget video of only slightly higher quality than the junk regularly issued by Xenon, Ground Zero, and Video Asia. The new release reveals slightly more image on the left side of the screen, but it rarely makes any noticeable difference, and the audio is also somewhat inferior to the initial disc.

Jimmy Wang Yu Kam Kong Doris Lung

The first disc included a commentary by critics Andy Klein and Wade Major and their discussion contained some errors. In light of that, the pair have recorded a new talk, included with the Mandarin version of the film, and are joined by another critic named Alex Luu. Naturally, the major discussion points are reiterated and Luu provides a welcome Asian perspective, talking about seeing this and other films during his childhood in Vietnam. Overall, the new recording offers some improvement, but there are a number of dead spots and the lack of detail regarding the film’s production and distribution history is unfortunate. The track would definitely have benefitted from the additional participation of writer and martial arts movie historian Linn Haynes, who did contribute some detailed liner notes, bios and filmographies to the release. The International export, American Seymour Borde, and 2002 re-issue trailers featured on the last disc have been ported over, complimented with trailers for several other Asian films offered by Pathfinder.

Wong Wing-sang L to R: Lung Fei, Wong Wing-sang, Sham Chin-bo Sit Hon

The major supplement here (created for a Japanese DVD release) is a pair of subtitled interviews (totaling 28 minutes) with Jimmy Wang Yu, taped at the 2003 Tokyo International Film Festival. In the former, Wang introduces a screening of the picture, answering some basic questions. Somewhat more detailed responses are heard in the second segment, as Wang discusses his character, the origin of the flying guillotine, the main players, and his plans to make another film in the series. The responses are usually not as detailed as one might like, and stalwart fans will hear little they don’t already know, but this remains a welcome addition to the release.

To summarize – the 2-disc set does include more supplementary materials, but in light of the inferior presentation of the feature, its desirability will depend solely on how much the buyer is interested in these extras. Those just wanting the superior copy of the movie should stick with the older disc (which is still available), as this new edition has nothing to recommend beyond its supplements and informative booklet.


This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Pathfinder. 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


Menu for Disc 1


Menu for Disc 2

DVD Specifications

  • U.S. Release
  • NTSC Region 1 Only
  • Pathfinder Home Entertainment #PH91159
  • Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Post-synced Mandarin Language and Dubbed English Language Versions
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Spanish
  • 25 Chapters (Each Version)
  • 16:9 Enhanced (2.35:1)
  • 93 Minutes (Mandarin)/ 90 Minutes (English)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Great Britain: 18
  • Manitoba: 18
  • Nova Scotia: 18
  • Ontario: R
  • Singapore: PG
  • United States: R
  • Contains brutal violence and cruelty to animals

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