Mad Monkey Kung Fu / Five Superfighters
Disc 3 of the Shawscope volume 2 set starts with the Lau Kar Leung classic, Mad Monkey Kung Fu made in 1978 and starring Hsiao Ho, Lau Kar Leung and Lo Lieh. Lau Kar Leung plays a martial arts expert and opera performer who after being overcome with a few drinks is conned by an owner of a brothel into thinking he disgraced himself with one of the establishment’s women and he is punished by having his hands smashed and also his sister held captive. He decides to become a street performer and is befriended by a young man who wants to learn his Monkey martial arts style. After long and intense training, the two set out to free his master’s sister and get revenge for his wrongdoing.
A real fan favourite this shows the director at the top of his game and star Hsiao Ho never had a better part, showing off his amazing martial arts and acrobatic skills. Lo Lieh as always plays an evil villain with ease and the action choreography is exemplary as to be expected. The master/student dynamic is explored fully with added depth and the chemistry between to two is excellent.
The Blu-ray has a fabulous 1080p transfer from a 2K remaster from the original negatives and looks great with depth and a bold colour palette. Audio has Cantonese original mono as well as the classic English dub. Subtitles are redone and clear and easy to follow.
The second film on the disc is Five Superfighters and concerns a kung fu expert who goes from town to town and challenges and beats up anyone who he perceives to have bad kung fu skills. He stumbles across a performing group and not only defeats the students easily but also their master. Disgraced the master goes into hiding but the three students go off to study a new form of kung fu in order to get revenge. After intense training, they all run into the villain at an outdoor inn and a brutal confrontation takes place.
A great cast of very skilled but mainly unknown actors makes this film great fun to watch. The choreography is outstanding, even if the plot has been done many times before. Kwan Fung is great as the main villain and the rest of the cast performs well including Austin Wai, Chiu Sing Hao and Siu Hun Leung.
Again the new 2K transfer is very good, not as sharp as Mad Monkey Kung Fu but miles better than the previous DVD release. Audio again has Cantonese original mono and English dub. Subtitles are fine and again easy to follow.
The extras on this disc are as follows –
- A brand new commentary for Mad Monkey Kung Fu by martial arts cinema experts Frank Djeng and Michael Worth – A very informative and fun discussion about the movie.
- Newly filmed appreciation of Mad Monkey Kung Fu by film critic and historian Tony Rayns – Another great talk with a good background on the making of the film and the people involved
- Interview with actor Hsiao Hou, filmed in 2004 – Interesting interview with the star of the film.
- Shaw in the USA, a brand new featurette featuring Grady Hendrix and Chris Poggiali, authors of These Fists Break Bricks – A brief History of how Shaw Brothers became popular in the United States.
- Hong Kong and US theatrical trailers for Mad Monkey Kung Fu
- Hong Kong theatrical trailer and UK VHS promo for Five Superfighters
- Image galleries for both films
Another great disc from the box set which is a must-have for Shaw Brothers fans.
FILMS – 8 / 8 PICTURE – 9 / 7 AUDIO – 8/8 EXTRAS – 7.5