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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Rage of Wind
The Rage of Wind
World Video and Supply // Unrated // October 17, 2001
List Price: $14.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted November 18, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Film: Set during World War II, during the occupation of China by the Japanese. Chen Hsing stars as a boxer who has lived abroad in America for the past ten years, taken a Euro-Asian wife (Irene Ryder), and has decided to return home to his quaint fishing village. While in America, he had become a promising boxer, until he accidentally killed his best friend in a boxing match, subsequently vowing to never use his fists again.

However, the village has changed under the cruel and oppressive hands of the Japanese thugs. While the villagers have secretly tried to fight back, murdering one of the Japanese, they are no match for the gang, who take out their vengeance by hanging one of the fishermen in the town square as a warning. Chen finds it a difficult task to quell his temper in the face of such acts, fights off one of the Japanese easily, and cuts the body down. The Japanese leader, Taga (the great Yasuaki Kuarata) recognizes that they now have a serious fighter in town, and buys time by two-facingly smiling to Chen at every turn, insisting that his men were not acting on his orders. When the Japanese try to rape a girl, her boyfriend stands up to them, only to be captured and taken to their compound. Having none of this Chen storms in, but still wanting to end the matter without violence, he lets one of the Japanese hit him three times, and if he doesn't fall, he can take the man away. In the face of taxes they in no way can afford, the villagers continue their uprising. The only real material items they own are their boats that they fish with; they sustain life, not profit from it. The Japanese insist they pay taxes or have their boats confiscated. Finally, with a secret invasion on the horizon, Taga makes a move against Chen, kidnapping his wife and Nephew, threatening to burn the boats, and attempting to ambush Chen. But, all this... just makes Chen mad.

It is an interesting film. Since Chen is the only good fighter on the Chinese side, and he is reluctant to fight, most of the combat is pretty minimal until he gets fed up. Until that point, most of the action is in the form of the Japanese beating and torturing the villagers (such as a blindfolded Taga taking a man and chaining him to a pole and whipping him with nunchuks). Its like if in Death Wish, Charles Bronson spent most of the movie steaming mad, before finally taking on street thugs in the last twenty minutes. And, even Chen's fighting only seemed to be superior not because he knows some style that is better, but purely because he is just more pissed off than his opponents. That's not to say that it makes the film boring, the build up makes the finale that much better, but those wanting your usual full tilt, action and training every five minutes will be disappointed.

Through his Season Films studio, director Ng See Yuen was a successful producer-director in the independent market, helming such films as Secret Rivals, Invincible Armor, and Tower of Death. Our hero, Chen Hsing, star of films like The Magnificent, Kung Fu Eight Drunkards, Fatal Flying Guillotine, and Triple Irons, was always a reliable martial actor, mostly used in third-second billed parts or bad guy roles, As a man who is slow to anger but deadly when provoked too far, he proves himself very well in this film. Basically all the role calls for, is some smiles and frowns at the beginning, and then temper to full on rage the rest of the film. Yasuaki Kuarata is one of the great old school stars of such films like Challenge of the Ninja, Prodigal Boxer, Ninja in a Deadly Trap, Return of the Deadly Blade, and he spent most of his career as "the Japanese bad guy" like he does here, playing a formidable, maniacal villain. When the two leads face each other at the end, is the films real fight payoff. The rest of the fights are pretty straightforward, but the final duel, they pull off a nice, furious villain-hero battle, between two angry men, practically frothing at the mouth to defeat/kill each other. Rage of the Wind is a modest affair, devoid of the spectacle of a Shaw Bros film, and like most independents, has to rely on its pacing and story, rather than outrageous grand battles and settings. In the long line of evil Japanese kung fu films, it works well, is an entertaining enough martial arts film, just not one that will particularly blow you away. It is a solid film, rather than an explosive one.

The DVD: World Video is to Criterion, what a high school paper is to the New York Times. Amazingly, not only do you get no disc artwork, but the menu is for an entirely different film, Shaolin Kung Fu Mystagogue (which I have also reviewed), right down to the scenes on the chapter selection. Luckily, I went ahead and played the film and found that Rage of the Wind was there. Picture- Fullscreen, Region 0, transfer of a very worn print. Mediocre color and sharpness, but biggest flaw is that the film is very, very spotty. However, one doesn't expect much out of older kung fu film transfers, and when compared to Ground Zero or Xenons transfers, its just about the same, so kung fu fans wont exactly cry over it (but they wont be jumping for joy either). Sound- 2.0 mono English dub, has the usual reverby, lo-fi defects one expects from such a film, but is fine overall, clear and audible. A side note, like many independent films of the time, Rage of the Wind borrows its score from other films, and ,very amusingly, some of the music is from Shaft, which had me giggling a lot. Extras- Not much. Trailers for Jet Li's Shaolin Kid, The Shaolin Temple, and Born to Defense. A web address page. The film has 8 Chapter selections, and glaringly pauses between each of them, as well as during the layer change. In conclusion, a nice low key curiosity for kung fu fans (if they find it cheap), but another one of those less than spectacular films, with a really less than spectacular transfer.

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