Issue #273          HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES               July 25th, 2005

Dirty Ho
(1979; Shaw Brothers)

Cantonese: Laan tau Ho
Mandarin: Lan tou He
English: Rotten Head Ho or Rotten Head He

  RATING: 8/10


Wang Qinqin (Gordon Lau Kar-fai), a kung fu master and The 11th. Prince, amuses himself by constantly foiling hapless conman Ho Chi (Wong Yue), while keeping his real identity a secret from his victim. After making it look like Ho (called He Zhen in the Mandarin-oriented English subtitles) has been defeated in combat by a club girl (Kara Hui Ying-hung) and poisoned by her to boot, Wang blackmails him into becoming his disciple. Aware that someone wants to see him dead before he can reach the palace, The Prince brings the swindler along with him because he knows that, even though the lad is not an expert fighter, Ho could still save his life someday. Badly injured by an assassin, Wang reveals to Ho that he is in not interested in ascending the throne, but that has not stopped murderous plots from being hatched amongst some of his brothers. In order to fully be able to protect Wang, Ho asks that The Prince help him to improve his kung fu, so that the two of them will be able to stave off future attackers and arrive at the palace in time for the announcement of the heir.

Gordon Lau Kar-fai Wong Yue

One of Lau Kar-leung's most entertaining Shaw Brothers productions, DIRTY HO boasts martial arts choreography every bit as expert as one would expect from the director. However, it also possesses a wry sense of humor and marvellous characters. Highlights include: Gordon Lau secretly manipulating Kara Hui's actions in order to make her look like a kung fu expert; Lau's two bouts of "clandestine kung fu" (first with Johnny Wang Lung-wei, while the pair pretend to taste wine and, later, with an antiques collector who is also under orders to kill him); and a terrific scene where Lau and Wong Yue are attacked by archers and spearmen, while crossing through the desolate area between a village and the typhoon wall built to shelter the people from the area's intense wind. The sequence involving a gang of fey, masochistic kung fu fighters was a bad idea, however. Lo Lieh, Wilson Tong Wai-shing, Hsiao Hou, and Peter Chan Lung co-star. The stock score includes a cue used in many episodes of THE HILARIOUS HOUSE OF FRIGHTENSTEIN.

Gordon Lau Kar-fai (left), Kara Hui Ying-hung Johnny Wang Lung-wei (left), Gordon Lau Kar-fai


While a letterboxed English dubbed version of DIRTY HO has been around the past ten years, Celestial’s restored transfer blows it out of the water. Hues are gorgeous and resolution is excellent in the vast majority of set-ups. Thankfully, the inescapable re-mix contains no especially asinine changes, save for some background ambiance. The opening credits have been recreated with video burn, though this is not especially obvious. In addition to the standard extras is the now-familiar ELEGANT TRAILS: GORDON LIU CHIA-HUI featurette, previously included on the CLAN OF THE WHITE LOTUS (issue #265) and HEROES OF THE EAST (issue #271) DVDs.

Lo Lieh Wong Yue (left), Gordon Lau Kar-fai

This DVD is available at:

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

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2005. All Rights Reserved.


- Hong Kong Release

NTSC – Region 3 Only

Intercontinental Video Ltd. #105036

Dolby Digital 5.1

Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin Language

Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional Chinese

12 Chapters

16:9 Enhanced (2.35:1)

98 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)


- Australia: PG

Great Britain: 15

Ontario: PG

Quebec: 13+

Singapore: PG

United States: R

Contains moderate violence

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