The first Shawscope Blu-Ray box set from Arrow was a big success and now we have volume 2 with a further 14 films to add to your collection.
Here we look at disc 1 in the Shawscope Volume 2 set, the classic 36th Chamber of Shaolin starring Gordon Liu and directed by Lau Kar Leung.
A young man who decides to help the rebellion witnesses a brutal attack carried out by the Manchu government. In order to seek revenge, he flees to the Shaolin temple and acquires extensive training in kung fu.
Made in 1978 this was the film which made a star out of Lau Kar Fei (Gordon Liu) and is probably one of the ultimate training films. After arriving at the temple he is given menial tasks but then is allowed to train in all 35 chambers available. We don’t see them all in the film but we do see many of them which concentrate on balance, coordination, weapons etc. When his training is complete, he returns to the outside world to seek revenge and eventually establishes the 36th Chamber, dedicated to the training of secular disciples at Shaolin. The choreography as expected from Lau Kar Leung is exceptional and he is helped by a great cast which includes, Lo Lieh, Wilson Tong, Lee Hoi Sang and Wong Yu. What some do not realise is that the other fighters he recruits to train at Shaolin are famous Chinese historical figures.
36th Chamber of Shaolin has been released on Blu-ray before, in the USA under the Dragon Dynasty label, but that transfer was poor. It was later released in Hong Kong in a box set of all three 36th Chamber films. These transfers were good if a little soft in places. (see review here….) This new release has been done from a brand new 4K transfer and you can immediately notice the difference. The colours are balanced, the image is very clear and the contrast and black levels are excellent. Audio gives you original lossless mono in original Mandarin with English subtitles, Cantonese dub which was done a bit later and the original English dub track. They all sound good.
Now we come to the extras and you have some great stuff to go through –
- Brand new feature commentary by critic Travis Crawford
- Brand new select-scene commentary by film critic and historian Tony Rayns – As always, a joy to listen to as he goes through the history of the film, stars etc
- Interview with star Gordon Liu, filmed in 2003 – Great interview in which he discusses his career and some of the films he has starred in.
- Interview with cinematographer Arthur Wong, filmed in 2006
- Shaolin: Birthplace of a Hero and Elegant Trails, two archive featurettes with Gordon Liu produced by Celestial Pictures in 2003
- Tiger Style: The Musical Impact of Martial Arts Cinema, a newly filmed overview of the Shaw Brothers’ influence on hip hop and other music genres, featuring music historian Lovely Jon. It- An interesting and different extra it’s just a shame that you could not hear some of the music he is talking about so we could get a better idea of the influence. Must be a rights issue.
- Cinema Hong Kong: Swordfighting, the second instalment in a three-part documentary produced by Celestial Pictures in 2003 and featuring interviews with Gordon Liu, Lau Kar-leung, Cheng Pei-pei, John Woo, Sammo Hung, Kara Hui, David Chiang and others – Great vintage documentary.
- Alternate opening credits from the American version titled Master Killer
- Hong Kong and German theatrical trailers, plus a US TV spot
- Image Gallery
Overall another great release and I’m sure the others in this box set will be just as good, will review other titles soon. But from what I have seen so far, anyone who purchased Volume 1 should definitely get the 2nd volume. As before the set is being released in the USA as well as the UK.
FILM – 9 PICTURE 9.5 AUDIO – 8 EXTRAS – 8