Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Hand of Death|
Actors: Jackie Chan, Chang Chung, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Tao-liang Tan, James Tien
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House
Early John Woo, Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung Movie
Steve Vander | 06/08/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"1976 R-rated Chinese Kung Fu Film (widescreen). Also known as "Countdown in Kung Fu," "Shao Lin men," "Shaolin Men," and "Strike of Death." Contains brief nudity. (Note: the Manchu (or Qing) were the rulers of China when the "Westerners" arrived and were the last Imperial rulers. As they ruled from 1644 until 1911, and had many rebellions to put down, it is unclear when the actions of the movie are supposed to occur).
DVD Features: The DVD contains the movie (in English and Mandarin, and with English subtitles), two trailers for the film (one original, one newly edited), and four other trailers (Spooky Encounters (Sammo Hung, ghost story); Legacy of Rage (Brandon Lee, rated R, modern era, prison movie?); Winners & Sinners (modern era, Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan); Warriors Two (R-rated; older era; Sammo Hung)).
Credits: John Woo ("The Killer", "Face/Off", "Paycheck"; or as the film credits him: Wu Yu-Sheng) wrote and directed this film. Sammo Hung ("Martial Law") provided the Action Direction (and acting, he is one of the Manchu officers (as Lord Du Ching)). The movie stars Tan Tao Liang (Yunfei; "Dual Flying Kicks"), James Tien (Commander Shih Xiaofeng; "Blade of Fury"), Jackie Chan (Tan Xiong; "Cannonball Run," "Rush Hour"), and Chang Chung (Wanderer the Swordsman or Master Sword; "Dragon Strike"). John Woo also appears as Scholar Cheng. (Note: These are the credits as they appear in the movie).
Plot: The Manchu (Qing) rule China, and have tried to take over the Shaolin martial arts. They failed, and now they have set out to destroy the Shaolin way. An ex-Shaolin (James Tien) works for the Manchu's to destroy the Shaolin way. A Shaolin disciple (Tan Tao Liang) fights back with the help of Jackie Chan (delivery man) and Chang Chung (swordsman). Meanwhile an anti-Qing revolution is underway.
Review: The English subtitles and the spoken English do not match up (though both are providing information not conveyed in the other medium), and the dubbing is distracting (the actual English isn't that bad, but hearing the English and watching the mouth movements is distracting). In a way, more than one movie is on the DVD. The spoken English version is not the same as the subtitled English (at one point Hung tells (spoken English) Liang that he likes him, while the subtitled English says something like how Liang is a fool and will die), and you can get a different movie by listening to the spoken English, or reading the subtitled English. I don't speak Mandarin, nor read it, so I don't know if the three different versions are different (two tracks are for different sound equipment, the third is the original soundtrack). After very brief testing, the Original Mandarin soundtrack is the track I listened to (seemed best in the limited test). The movie is shown in widescreen, and the English subtitles show up very well in white in the bottom black bar.
The music, by Joseph Koo, is impressive and provides the right complement to the movie. The martial arts action is impressive and well done (I'm divided on whether the fighting looks too staged or looks more realistic than the more "magical, flying" martial arts action of today).
It's interesting to see Jackie Chan so young (you can also see the young Jackie Chan in the 1981 US movie "Cannonball Run"; it should be stressed that neither Sammo Hung nor Jackie Chan are the main stars in this movie).
The fighting is quite impressive, the acting (as much as I can tell) is good, the music is great, the plot is solid (maybe slightly less than I would expect from John Woo, and more than I would expect from an early Kung Fu movie). At times the movie seems to be a Chinese version of the Magnificent Seven, though missing one or two people (not sure if I should count Zhang or not as he is someone they have to protect, instead of a fighter; the movie is very vaguely similar to the Western). Lovely countryside they run around in. Overall, I would give the movie 4.23 stars."
Good Kung Fu movie.
Ryan V. Abbott | Ft. Walton Beach, FL | 09/12/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of Jackie's earlier movies. This movie also marked the debut for a young John Woo who appears in the movie. Jackie plays a supporting role in the movie. The main star of the movie was an actor called "Flash Legs" Tan who offers some cool kicking technics. The story is about a renegade shaolin disciple who turns on his former Shaolin brothers and disbands them into secret factions who long for revenge. Jackie plays the brother of one of the Shaolin men who is killed by the renegade who joins Tan and a swordsman to take his revenge. Jackie has two fight scenes with a spear that are very good and along with good fight scenes from the others. Sammo Hung is in this one also playing a villain, and also choreographed the fight scene. The story isn't half that bad either, although it does move kind of slow in some parts. I would recommend this to anyone interested in a good old fashioned kung fu movie."
Tan Tao Liang!!!
P.Colella | Chicago, IL United States | 01/31/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great film, but a bit misrepresented. This is not a Jackie Chan movie. He is in the film, but by no means is he the star. Tan Tao Liang is the hero. Great villains. James Tien is so convincing with his mini blade. How does he spin that thing?!?!! This is also a rare opportunity to see Sammo Hung as an evil counterpart to Tien in the film. Tan Tao Liang kicks are amazing. This is a a great tale of heroism and patriotism. Sounds strange, but the English voice overs match perfectly with how the characters act. That can be a problem with many martial arts films. Make sure you get the Leg Fighters too!"
Fox/Fortune Star gives us teh movie with great picture quali
morgoth | omaha, NE | 06/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The movie starts out with a really cool scene showing the destruction of the Shaolin Temple. Look for a quick cameo by Wilson Tong. Sammo is in a cool role as like a general. His buckteeth look a bit stupid but his fighting doesn't. THIS IS A DORIAN TAN MOVE but Jackie Chan is great in his small role as a man looking to help out Tan take care of the villian played by james Tien. The story is not going to go down as one of the best ever told. A swordsman comes to help them out and they take down the evil guys. The thing that really stood out is Jackie playing a serious role. He does it very well and his fight with a spear was awesome. Sammo and Dorian Tan have a good fight. Really good fighting all around. The final fight is not spectacular but James Tien puts on a good performance.
The DVD is great. Widecreened, great picture quality, and dual language tracks. Just about all that you could ask for."