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Last Hurrah for Chivalry / Hand of Death: Two Films by John Woo (Blu-ray — 2019)

Arriving for the primary time on Blu-ray within the UK, (releasing on 24th June) a vital pair of early movies from one of the greatest action administrators of all time, introduced in a 2-disc set taken from model new 2K restorations, courtesy of Eureka Entertainment! Starring Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, James Tien, Pai Wei and Damian Lau.

Trailer

Forged: Last Hurrah for Chivalry

Damian Lau stars because the assassin “Tsing Yi”. A well-liked television actor, Lau made his huge display debut in “Last Hurrah for Chivalry”. He would go on to seem in classics similar to “Duel to the Death”, “Heroic Trio”, “New Legend of Shaolin” and “My Father is a Hero/The Enforcer”. Wei Pai plays “Chang San”. In an extended career he appeared in lots of common kung fu films including “The Five Venoms”, “The Young Master”, “Return to the 36th Chamber”, “Magnificent Butcher” and “The Prodigal Son”. Fashionable ATV actress Bonnie Ngai Chau-Wah star as “Sau Sau”, a courtesan who’s enamoured with Chang San. TVB actor Lau Kong plays “Kao Pang”. At the age of 12, Kong moved to Taiwan to review Peking Opera. Returning to Hong Kong in 1966, Lau worked as a martial arts instructor and joined Shaw Brothers mainly working in voice dubbing before appearing.

Lee Hoi Sang appears because the villain “Pak Chung Tong”. Hoi Sang Lee is greatest recognized for his roles in “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin”, “Shaolin Challenges Ninja”, “The Incredible Kung Fu Master”, “The Young Master”, “The Prodigal Son”, “Project A”, “Shaolin and Wu Tang” and “Disciples of the 36th Chamber”, to call but a couple of. Prolific martial arts action actor Fung Hak-on stars as “Pray/Let It Be”. Fung Hak-on, has appeared or performed stunts in basic films ranging from “The Boxer from Shantung”, and “Iron Fisted Monk”, by way of to “The Young Master”, “Magnificent Butcher”, “Police Story” and “Kung Fu Hustle”.

Forged: Hand Of Dying

Hand of Demise” turned notable in later years for giving early main roles to motion superstars Jackie Chan as “Tan Feng” and Sammo Hung as “Officer Tu Ching”, though they don’t seem to be the primary stars.

One of the 1970’s movie stars famous for his high-kicking expertise, Doran Tan Tao-liang stars as “Yun Fei”. Nicknamed “Flash Legs” he additionally taught martial arts to such notable students as John Liu, Yuen Biao and Shannon Lee! Veteran of the Bruce Lee films “The Big Boss” and “Fist of Fury“, James Tien stars as “Shih Shao-Feng”. Yeung Wai plays “Zorro/The Wanderer”. Having featured in small roles in lots of of Golden Harvest‘s early films, he would go on to seem in films similar to “Iron Fisted Monk”, “Enter the Fat Dragon”, “Warriors Two” and “Hitman within the Hand of Buddha“.

Plot

Last Hurrah For Chivalry (1979)

The marriage get together of Kao Pang, a revered martial artist is gate-crashed by Pak Chang Tong, the evil ruling martial artist and most hated villain of Kao’s clan. The bride-to-be attempts to kill Kao having been bribed by Pak. As Kao recovers from his injuries he’s informed by his master that there isn’t any method he might ever tackle Pak in a one-on-one battle. Kao engages the providers of Tsing Yi and Chang San, two grasp swordsman, but doesn’t reveal his plans for revenge. Because the swordsmen encounter Pak Chang Tong’s gang, loyalties and truths are examined and revealed!

Hand Of Dying (1976)

Through the Qing Dynasty, Shih Shao-Feng, a deadly warlord, is intent on ridding China of Shaolin martial artists. At a distant training camp a gaggle of Shaolin college students practice collectively, with their greatest scholar Yun Fei given the task of taking down Shih Shao-Feng, ending his reign of terror. On his travels he befriends a blacksmith named Tan Feng, a blacksmith who additionally occurs to be a skilled martial artist. Having escaped from a confrontation with Shih Shao-Feng and his bodyguards, Yun Fei and Tan befriend two individuals along the best way. One of them is an excellent swordsman who has never drawn his sword after he by accident killed the love of his life. The lads determine to unite in an effort to defeat Shih Shao-Feng. With their battle plans laid and the heroes educated, they prepare themselves for the battle ahead.

Action

Last Hurrah for Chivalry

A rousing theme track plays over partially animated credits of a wuxia novel. The opening struggle is a mass brawl that includes numerous traditional weapons. Though the choreography seems to be very dated, even for 1979, there’s a fantastic Chinese language operatic type to it. Apparently John Woo filmed in this fashion as a tribute to his mentor, the legendary director Chang Cheh. There are some of the next “street fights” that embrace more practical, less dramatic hand-to-hand kung fu methods.

With the introduction of motion legend Fung Hark On, the tempo of the preventing is upped significantly. Woo films in lengthy, extensive takes with the digital camera regularly monitoring the action. There are key moments in the action punctuated with sluggish movement, one thing that might turn into a signature fashion for Woo in his later films. The broadsword duel between Fung Hark On and Wei Pai has some exceptionally advantageous choreography and moments that would virtually have been directed by Sergio Leone. The action-packed finale options some breathtaking, operatic and acrobatic swordplay interspersed with chivalrous and humorous banter from our heroes and villains, as well as quite a few plot twists.

Hand of Demise

Shih Shao-Feng’s troopers attack the Shaolin Temple and such notable stars as James Tien and a buck-toothed Sammo Hung spring into motion. The choreography is rather more in the type of early 1970’s Shaw Brothers films, slightly than the exhausting and quick motion of Sammo’s later films. The motion improves a notch as Yun Fei demonstrates his preventing expertise in the course of the opening credits. He does some nice spinning kicks and is adept with swords or picket poles.

Perhaps extra a sign of 1970’s “exploitation” there’s what you may name an “erotic” scene in a brothel. It preludes a fist battle with Yun Fei which has tragic consequences for him. There’s an intricate battle in Shih Shao-Feng’s courtyard that contains a younger Yuen Wah. Nevertheless the motion stays very much within the mould of the time with kung fu methods carried out in a staccato rhythm.

There are the obligatory training sequences that might grow to be so widespread within the interval kung fu movies of the 1970’s. I notably favored the use of a swinging bamboo pole to coach evasions and Chin Na counter assaults! There’s also a powerful destruction of dangling watermelons with some excessive roundhouse and spinning kicks. Very similar to in Woo’s celebrated masterpiece “Red Cliff”, our heroes use deception to provoke their assault on the courtroom of Shih Shao-Feng.

This also marks the first bit of respectable action that Jackie Chan is involved in. He wields a spear with velocity, precision and style, utilizing more traditional methods quite than the flashy acrobatic juggling that may define his later films. Even so you’ll be able to see there’s something just a little totally different and special about the best way that Jackie moves. The identical applies to Sammo Hung who has a fluidity and power that nobody else in his battle scenes quite possesses.

The finale options some nice, straight sword methods used within the right context towards the villain’s spears. The final battle with James Tien is about in some stunningly filmed countryside. There are little thrives of Woo’s trendy cinematography with some great, wide-framed, unbroken takes. There are even a pair of small moments that aren’t in contrast to his work on the finale of Tom Cruise’s Hollywood blockbuster Mission: Unattainable 2.

Summary

Both films touch on themes of brotherhood, loyalty, betrayal, revenge and heroic sacrifice, something director John Woo would return to repeatedly in his 1980’s classics. In truth it wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch for him to set these films in pre-1997 handover Hong Kong and substitute the swords with Berettas.

In phrases of plots and performances, there is something that simply appears just a little more polished than many of the other wuxia films of the identical era. The plot strains and penalties appear to matter as much to Woo because the motion does. “Last Hurrah for Chivalry” has all of the sentiment and humour of a basic wuxia tale, but is acted out and filmed with actual type.

Whereas other films launched across the similar time corresponding to “The Prodigal Son” or “Knockabout” have been revolutionising interval kung fu choreography, this movie paid attention to the dramatic story and dialogue. Once more one thing that may elevate many of Woo’s later Hong Kong action films.

Last Hurrah for Chivalry” can also be completely packed to the brim with fights. Barely 5 minutes passes throughout its 107 minute operating time earlier than somebody kicks off! In “Hand of Death”, the younger Sammo truly provides a very mature appearing efficiency as an conceited courtroom official. Though it’s little greater than a visitor starring position, a really young-looking Jackie Chan additionally delivers a superb appearing efficiency and is definitely much much less melodramatic than you may anticipate him to be in one of his very early roles. In terms of battle choreography and cinematography by John Woo, “Last Hurrah for Chivalry” is an enormous step forward from “Hand of Death”, and you may see the genesis of the auteur that John Woo would develop into.

Both films are beautiful to take a look at with the 2K restorations wanting and sounding as sharp as ever. The colors of the interval costumes, sets and places are bold and shiny, as are the sounds of clashing swords and rousing musical scores. Extras embrace brand new and insightful audio commentaries on each “Last Hurrah for Chivalry” and “Hand of Death” by martial arts cinema authority Mike Leeder, as well as a couple of fascinating archival interviews with director John Woo.

Should you like old-school wuxia action these are two of probably the most stylishly made examples of the genre. Additionally they serve as an interesting insight into the pre-action legend careers of two of Hong Kong’s most influential filmmakers; John Woo and Jackie Chan.

This is yet one more important purchase for each kung fu fan’s collection from Eureka’s ever-expanding library.

Trivia

  • Director John Woo together with Jackie Chan’s fellow members of the “Seven Little Fortunes”, Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah, all have cameos in “Hand of Death”.
  • Wai Pak who plays “Chang San” and Lau Kong who performs “Kao Pang” in “Last Hurrah for Chivalry” had temporary cameo roles in director John Woo’s acclaimed action movie “Hard Boiled”.
  • In accordance with his guide “I Am Jackie Chan”, Chan was knocked unconscious when he performed one of the stunts in “Hand of Death”.
  • “Hand of Death” being an early movie in all their careers, Jackie Chan is credited as Chen Yuan-Lung, Sammo Hung as Hung Chin-Pao and author and director John Woo as Wu Yu Sheng.

Favourite Quotes

  • “If your heart is consumed by vengeance, your wounds will only worsen.”
  • “If I had a blade in my hand, you would have to accept one’s fate.” – Cheung San
  • “To be strongly governed by your emotions is a fatal weakness.”
  • “In this world, true friends do exist.”
  • “Men who beg are not heroes. They’re cowards.” – Yun Fei

Film Score: 8/10

Last Hurrah for Chivalry / Hand of Demise: Two Films by John Woo is out on Blu-ray from 24th June 2019 courtesy of Eureka Classics, and in addition by way of Amazon! STAY TUNED TO KUNG FU KINGDOM THIS WEEK FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN YOUR COPY COURTESY OF EUREKA ENTERTAINMENT!

Have you loved these newly restored classics? Which different old-school wuxia movies or John Woo thrillers would you wish to see receive the same remedy? Are you excited concerning the soon Blu-ray releases of “Magnificent Butcher”, “Eastern Condors” and “Iron Fisted Monk”? Let us know within the comments under; Like, share and be a part of within the conversation on Facebook and comply with us on Twitter & Instagram. Meantime, sustain your warrior chivalry by getting into the FUniverse, take a look at these Prime 10’s, get your official KFK merch and subscribe for extra videos on YouTube!