The art of Wing Chun kung fu has always been popular around the world, especially after it was discovered it was the style Bruce Lee studied in his younger days. But it rarely appeared in Hong Kong martial arts cinema because it was thought to be very un-cinematic as it was mostly based on close-quarters combat.
A few early Shaw Brothers films such as Shaolin Martial Arts and Invincible Shaolin had the style Wing Chun mentioned in them, but not shown in much detail. Sammo Hung who was becoming an established director at Golden Harvest wanted to find something different to put into the then-booming kung fu film industry and came across the story of Leung Jan one of the prominent Wing Chun exponents of the past.
Warriors Two made in 1978, shows Leung Jan (Leung Gar Yan) as an elder, respected teacher in the town of Fatsan who decides to teach a cashier (Casanova Wong) the art of Wing Chun after he was almost killed by a band of corrupt gangsters infiltrating the town. When the master is brutally killed by the gang, it is up to the surviving members of the Wing Chun school to plot their revenge.
Sammo Hung directs with style and wisely uses super kicker Casanova Wong to bring a bit more variety to the fight scenes, but also choreographing the action, with the help of Wing Chun expert Guy Lau, to show the style of Wing Chun in a manner in which it looked fantastic. The revenge plot is nothing new, but the fight scenes are plentiful and superbly staged, especially the extended finale. The only downside is the comic interludes by actor Dean Shek which jars with the tone of the rest of the film.
Prodigal Son was made a few years later in 1981 and looks at the younger years of Leung Jan who was the son of a rich merchant who wanted him protected so had his staff pay people to lose to him in a fight, giving him the false impression that he is a martial arts expert. After being humiliated in a real fight by a member of an opera troupe, Leung Jan decides to become a real Wing Chun master, but a twist of fate has him training for a battle with another deadly kung fu expert (Frankie Chan).
Yuen Biao shines as the young Leung Jan and Lam Ching Ying gives one of his finest performances as Wing Chun master Leung Yee-Tai. Sammo Hung makes an appearance as another master who teaches him the art of real fighting, and the choreography is a lot more polished than Warriors Two and rightly won best action choreography at the 1981 HK Film awards.
This double feature release on Blu-ray from Eureka has excellent new 2K HD remastered prints, and they have never looked better. Spotless and sharp fans will be very happy with both transfers. Audio has original mono in Cantonese with retranslated English subtitles or English dubbed tracks. Both again are clear and crisp.
Extras are good and have the following –
DISC ONE: WARRIORS TWO:
TWO VERSIONS OF THE FILM, BOTH FULLY RESTORED IN 2K | Warriors Two: Hong Kong Theatrical Version(95 mins) | Warriors Two: International Export Version(90 mins) | Original Cantonese mono audio (Hong Kong Version) | Optional English dubbed audio (Hong Kong and Export Versions)** | Optional English Subtitles, newly translated for this release | Brand new feature-length audio commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival) and martial artist/actor Robert “Bobby” Samuels [Hong Kong Version] | Brand-new feature-length audio commentary by action cinema experts Mike Leeder & Arne Venema [Export Version] | Making of “Warriors Two”featurette | Stills galleries including rare production stills, artwork, and ephemera | Trailers
DISC TWO: THE PRODIGAL SON:
FULLY RESTORED IN 2K | Original Cantonese mono audio | Optional English dubbed audio | Optional English Subtitles, newly translated for this release | Brand-new feature-length audio commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival) and martial artist/actor Robert “Bobby” Samuels | Brand-new feature-length audio commentary by action cinema experts Mike Leeder & Arne Venema | Archival interview with Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, and Frankie Chan | Archival interview with Guy Lai | Alternate English credits | Stills galleries including rare production stills, artwork, and ephemera | Trailers.
The limited-edition set will also come with a booklet with rare pictures and essays, double-sided poster, and slip cover.
These two classics are some of the best Hong Kong kung fu movies to be released during that period and if you have only watched Wing Chun in the Ip Man series of films I urge you all to check these out, you will not be disappointed.
FILM – (W2) – 9 (PS) – 9 PICTURES – 9 AUDIO – 8 EXTRAS – 8