Issue #291         HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES      November 28th, 2005

The Black Panther Warriors
(1993; In-Gear Film Production Co.)

Cantonese: Hak paau tin ha
Mandarin: Hei bao tian xia
English: Black Panthers Rule Heaven and Earth

  RATING: 2/10


This all-star action/comedy disaster concerns a group of master thieves who have been recruited to steal a file from the police department. The prize: enough money to last the rest of their lives. After figuring out how to crack the building's intricate security system, leader Black Cougar (not "Black Panther," as per the title) tries to pull the job himself. He succeeds, but it is a set-up and Cougar (Alan Tang Kwong-wing) is captured. While the rest of the team fend off squads of hitmen and try to discover their leader’s whereabouts, the latter learns that his brother, Bloody Wolf (Yuen Wah), is responsible for the treachery.

Alan Tang Kwong-wing Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia

The original four minute coming attractions trailer (included on the DVD) makes this look like one of the wildest HK action spectaculars ever committed to film, but don't be fooled: even if it wasn't hobbled by one of the worst English subtitling jobs ever, this Clarence Fok Yiu-leung (NAKED KILLER) movie would still be a major disappointment. With the story rendered so utterly nonsensical, the viewer is left with little more than a handful of ultra-stylized (not to mention, over-edited) combat setpieces, painfully insipid comedy, and the attractive cast playing dress-up in a series of outlandish costumes. Alan Tang, Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia, Carrie Ng Kar-lai, and Simon Yam Tat-wah manage to escape this debacle unscathed, but Tony Leung Kar-fai is embarrassingly over-the-top, and Dicky Cheung Wai-kin is absolutely unbearable as a computer whiz who turns into a drooling idiot unless he is sucking on a pacifier. Other players include Jennifer Chen Ming-chen (ROCK ‘N ROLL COP), Melvin Wong Kam-sun, Pau Fong, and Lily Lee Li-li (not to be confused with Shaw Brothers regular Lily Li Li-li). The all-star cast reportedly caused production problems by rarely all being on location at the same time, even though the script included a number of scenes where this would be necessary. Credits for no less than six cinematographers also suggest less than smooth sailing on the technical end.

Carrie Ng Kar-lai Simon Yam Tat-wah


In spite of those stars (the majority of whom did not bother to loop their own dialogue) and some genuinely exciting action, THE BLACK PANTHER WARRIORS was not a film I had planned to revisit anytime soon. However, I took a chance on the Mega Star DVD in the hopes that the English subtitles* had been redone. As you have probably guessed by now, that is not the case and it boggles the mind that someone would actually sit and transcribe every single error-ridden sentence without changing a thing! The presentation is an improvement over the wretched Tai Seng laserdisc (presumably the same awful master was re-used for their later DVD), but is a step down from what consumers have come to expect from major HK labels these days. The image is rather hazy, colors are drab, and little or no attempt has been made to clean up the speckles and dirt on the positive print source. Both the Cantonese and Mandarin versions have been remixed in 5.1, but as they are obviously from optical track sources, the results are not very impressive. The Mandarin option is the lesser of the two, and the abrasive dubbing makes the movie even more of a chore to sit through.

Jennifer Chen Ming-chen Tony Leung Kar-fai

* The DVD’s subtitles do offer one improvement over the theatrical version: they are at least onscreen at all times. For about one third of the running time, the original Chinese/English subs were superimposed too low on the 35mm prints, causing the latter to be off screen. When I saw the movie at the late, lamented Far East Theatre in Toronto during the spring of 1994, I thought the projectionist had just let the frame wander but, no, this was another subtitling gaffe!

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Mega Star Video Distribution. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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


- Hong Kong Release

NTSC – Region 0

Mega Star Video Distribution #MS/DVD/ 267/HK

Dolby Digital 5.1

Post-synced Cantonese and Dubbed Mandarin Language

Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, and Thai

9 Chapters

16:9 Enhanced (1.85:1)

91 Minutes


- Hong Kong: II

Manitoba: 14A

Nova Scotia: 14

Ontario: AA

Quebec: G

Singapore: PG

Contains moderate violence and crude content

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