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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Master Strikes
The Master Strikes
Crash Cinema // Unrated // May 11, 2004
List Price: $14.99 [Buy now and save at Hkflix]
Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted June 4, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Master Strikes (1979) is, pardon my language, pure chop fucking suey and a bit of low budget, martial comedy silliness. It represents a style that can often divide martial fans. Guys like me opt for the purer, meaner, revenge-fueled bloodbaths, whereas The Master Strikes is tame silliness, more for the kiddie matinee crowd.

Big kicker Casanova Wong (Warriors Two, Iron Fisted Monk) is Tseng Yu, a courier entrusted with an extremely valuable jade horse statue. He delivers the sealed box containing the statue, but upon opening it, the owner, Liang, finds an empty box. Tseng Yu's entire business and life savings are turned over to Liang and Tseng Yu goes completely bonkers. A couple of bumbling schemers, Ah Liang and Hsiao Li, decipher Tseng Yu's gibberish, and begin to track down Liang, who as it turns out has been running this scheme, amassed an empire doing so, and is now living under an assumed name. Liang doesn't take too kindly their digging into his shady business so he hires some goons to kill the trio, but, aside from the mentally retarded Tseng Yu still retaining his martial prowess, Ah Liang and Hsiao Li have been studying with a drunken martial master.

From the moment I saw Casanova Wong's Prince Valiant haircut, I knew the usually formidable martial star was going to be in full goofy mode. His comedic "crazy face" mugging is so over the top, it would probably make Jerry Lewis throw up. Not to be outdone, the our bumbling duo get in a lot of mugging to and much of the films running time is spent on various goofy setups they get into. The fighting (featuring early choreography by Ching Sui Tung- but with none of his trademarks) has a predominantly comedic slant as well, with such things as the assassins attack on the trio in a brothel, where a gag involving hiding under a bed next to a pee pot is given as much attention as Wong's heavy duty kicks.

Trying to decipher the plot in any sensible way is useless. It all makes very little sense. Stuff like the drunken master suddenly appearing and their "wacky" efforts to train with him, is just the sort of thing thrown in because every other post-Drunken Master comedy in the late 70's/early80's had to put a drunken master in there, somewhere. And, that is one of the reasons this kind of film is just not my style. While I've seen far, far worse examples of this kind of formula, I just couldn't get into The Master Strikes and I kept wishing I was watching Sammo Hung and Casanova Wong's far superior Warriors Two.

The DVD: Crash

Picture: Non-anamorphic Widescreen. While it is widescreen, the image still appears a bit squeezed. Still, one never gets the sense of the image being cut off, and I'll take a slightly wonky-looking image to a cropped image any day. Print damage and age wear is very evident. Still, it is slightly better than most kung fu DVD companies callously dumping product in discount bins across the country. So, it doesn't look great, but in the realm of kung fu on DVD, it doesn't look too horrible either.

Sound: Mono Cantonese, with burned in Englsih and Chinese subtitles. Typical distorted stock soundtrack music and reverb drenched kicks and punches, but at least there isn't too much hiss or audio drop-off. The subs, like most burned on the print subs, are often a mess, getting cropped off at the edges, disappearing into the white background, and riddled with errors, like "Where are you kiiping the money?"

Extras: Chapter Selections— Previews (9:00). Trailers for The Master Strikes, Taoism Drunkard and Sting of the Dragon Masters.

Conclusion: Certainly cheap enough for the casual comedy-martial arts fan. The quality is a lackluster affair that kung fu enthusiast are no doubt used to seeing. This one is a real judgment call, if you are into low budget kung fu cheapies certainly, give it a try. If you prefer to save your cash for only the more superior releases, avoid it like the plague.

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