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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Kung Fu Girl / Whiplash
Kung Fu Girl / Whiplash
Shout Factory // Unrated // December 2, 2014
List Price: $19.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted December 15, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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The Movies:

Shout! Factory pairs up two vintage martial arts film, each starring the lovely and talented Pei-Pei Cheng (likely familiar to most North American audiences for her role in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).

Kung-Fu Girl:

Also known as None But The Brave (which is the title that the print used for this DVD bears) and Attack Of The Kung Fu Girls this film was the first that Pei-Pei Cheng would make for Golden Harvest. She was previously under contract to the famous Shaw Brothers studios where she was immortalized in the classic Come Drink With Me, among many others. Directed by Lo Wei, who had directed Bruce Lee in his Golden Harvest films, this one borrows a bit from Fists Of Fury but it is certainly its own beast.

The film begins when Chen Xiaoying (Pei-Pei Cheng) engages a group of men in a brawl. From here, she travels to Beijing to meet with Captain Lei (Wei Au) under the guise that she is his long lost sister. She's actually helping out with a resistance movement, she and her follow members want to stop the powers that be from making a bad deal with the Japanese. The Captain buys her story and welcomes her into his home and soon enough she's getting closer to finding Tsai, one of their own who has been imprisoned for speaking out.

Things get complicated when she's introduced to some of Lei's Japanese associates, particularly when one of them shows romantic intent towards her and, at risk of blowing her cover and her mission, she's forced to go along with it. As time goes on, most of her other fellow revolutionary types wind up in trouble and/or tossed into jail and eventually, as you could probably guess, she has to reveal her true self and fight her way to the finish.

The plot gets a little messy in spots but the fight scenes are well done. Pei-Pei Cheng really shines here, she's charming and cute but you don't want to mess with her because she also proves fast and deadly. The camera loves her and the cinematographer does a nice job of framing her both in the action scenes and in the more dramatic aspects of the picture as it all plays out. Pacing wise there are a few slow spots but these are easy enough to sit through as they do at least attempt to offer some character development at times. There's a neat opening credits sequence in this one too, they go pretty wild with the music and the still photos flying everywhere, but some of those stills are a bit spoilery!

Whiplash:

Next up, in Whiplash we see the actress play a young village woman named Tigress. Years back the capital city was sieged and the Empress fled, when this happened her jewels went missing but ten years later were found by Tigress' father.

Of course, news of the jewels' discovery spreads like wild fire and before you know it, all manner of bad guys are descending upon the small village hoping to get the valuables for themselves. What they don't count on is Tigress and her mastery of the martial arts.

Directed by Shan-Hsi Ting, this one moves at a pretty good pace and affords the film's leading lady ample opportunity to strut her stuff, something that she and the camera take full advantage of. Pei-Pei Cheng gets plenty of screen time here and large portions of that screen time mopping the floor with the various bad guys that show up in town. Lots of bandit/pirate types show up so she keeps pretty busy but we get some nice fight choreography throughout the movie and some impressive scenes of hand to hand combat as well.

Add to this some impressive locations used throughout the movie, particularly the mountain areas featured in the film, and this is a handsome looking movie in its own way. It's also fairly gritty in that we don't see the lead actress strutting about in fancy dress but instead dressed as she would if she really did live out there in the sticks. The film also does a good job of making each of the bandit foes that Tigress has to square off against interesting in their own way. There's a bit more character development here than you'd probably expect for the guys who are essentially only in the movie to get their butts kicked by the star. On top of that, the movie even features a musical number! Some of the humor worked into this one is goofy, but if you don't need to take things all that seriously and are in the right frame of mind, this is a fun watch.

The DVD:

Video:

Both films are presented in 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen and are watchable enough but far from pristine. Color fading is obvious throughout both features as is print damage, dirt and debris. The detail is okay but never amazing while black levels tend to lean closer to a dark grey than to true black. Having said that, there aren't any major problems with compression artifacts or edge enhancement, though like most of the standard definition Fortune Star pickups that Shout! Factory have been releasing lately, both transfers haven't been flagged for progressive scan playback. Reference quality? Nope, not at all, but watchable enough.

Sound:

Each film gets a Mandarin language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono mix with optional subtitles provided in English only.

Extras:

Extras are limited to a trailer for each film, static menus, film selection and chapter selection.

Final Thoughts:

Shout Factory's Martial Arts Double Feature: Kung-Fu Girl/Whiplash isn't going to win any awards for sterling audio and video quality nor does it offer up much in the way of extras, but if you're a fan of Pei-Pei Cheng, you'll find much to appreciate. The two films offered are fairly obscure pictures and they're being made available in widescreen and in their original language at a decent price. Each film is pretty entertaining, and if you fall into her fan base, consider this disc recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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