Eureka in the UK continue to release classic Hong Kong action films onto Blu ray and the latest from a 2K remaster is Jimmy Wang Yu in Beach of the War Gods.
A mixture of Chinese swordplay movies, Spaghetti Westerns and the classic Kurasawa movie The Seven Samurai, the film has Japanese invaders raid villages on the Chinese coast with total brutality and they target the next small town on their path.
But at the same time, a wandering swordsman (Wang Yu) single-handedly dispatches the first group of the invading Japanese and agrees to help defend the town. But to do so, he must set out to train the villagers in combat and go out and try to find other fighters to help.
He recruits some skilled patriots to join him including mercenary knife thrower Leng Ping (Tien Yeh) and hot-headed swordsman Iron Bull Chao (Hsieh Han). Then the battle is set to fight and defend the village starting at the Beach of the War Gods.
Wang Yu always plays the anti-hero well; this is one of his finest films as a star and director. Here he uses the camera and framing very well and it is reminiscent of Japanese classic Chanbara cinema. The action comes thick and fast and almost the whole of the second half of the film is one long epic battle.
The fights are well choreographed but surprisingly bloodless apart from the climax. The Japanese as is typical from films of this period are displayed as nothing but ruthless villains who kill and conquer all who get in the way. The storytelling is fast-paced and it certainly gives action fans their money’s worth.
The new remastered 2K image is fabulous, the film has always looked worn and murky on DVD (you can read my brief review here…) but this transfer is bright and colourful. The sound is fine with original mono Mandarin with English subtitles or the classic English dub. The sound design is also unusual with silence and gusting winds giving it a lot of atmosphere.
Extras are a good talk about Wang Yu and his career by Tony Rayns, as always his knowledge shines through and it’s well worth a watch. We get Mike Leeder and Arne Venema to chat on a beach about the life and career of the star. Also an audio commentary by Frank Djeng (he is always worth a listen) as well as a long interview with the man himself Jimmy Wang Yu filmed in Nantes in 2001 courtesy of the Frédéric Ambroisine Video Archive. Finally, a Limited Edition Collector’s Booklet (First Print Run of 2000 copies only) featuring new writing by James Oliver.
Another fantastic release from Eureka with a great remastered image and extras.
FILM – 8 PICTURE – 8 AUDIO – 7 EXTRAS – 8