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Revenge of the Shaolin Master

Crash Cinema // Unrated // November 4, 2003
List Price: $14.99 [Buy now and save at Hkflix]

Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted October 25, 2003 | E-mail the Author
Revenge of the Shaolin Master (1979) is a cheap, period, martial quickie from director Law Chi (Crippled Masters, Invincible Kung Fu Trio).

Dorian or "Delon" Tan (Deadly Shaolin Kicks, Tattoo Connection) plays the stalwart Lin Chan Wu, a soldier in charge of escorting a cache of silver and rice to some refugees in great need of support. But, he and his crew are attacked by bandits and Chan Wu is framed as the inside man who clued them into the shipment. Inspector Yueng Ting is sent to find him and aid the local magistrate in uncovering the bandit plot and getting back the goods. But, the real snake behind the robbery is the magistrate and it will take some convincing to get Inspector Yueng on Chan Wu's side. Eventually, the two men join forces to clear Chan Wu's name and bring down the corrupt officials.

Pretty good, standard, "man is unjustly accused so he seeks justice for his soured reputation and defiled family" plotline. Throw a good inspector into the mix, a guy being pulled along by the bad guys, and it is a fairly good story. The fighting is all pretty good, though Delon Tan has looked better in other films. Yuen Wo Ping was one of the fight choreaographers so you can see some good flashes of intricate, nicely framed combat. The ending has a nice cruel bit where our two good guys are captured. Yueng Ting's legs are shackled while Chan Wu's arms are chained. The bad guys tell the two one of them can be spared an anguishing death if they fight one another. Of course, big kicker Dorian Tan gets to show off his legs, and, its easy to figure out they aren't going to fight to the death for long before they decide to turn against the villains.

One of those nice little oddities in kung fu filmdom is the third act cameo. Just as the film seems to be reaching its conclusion, suddenly solid character actor and muscle Chen Sing pops up as "The Marshall" and begins fighting another third act addition, Lu Feng, who a scene earlier arrived as the cousin of our main villain. For those unfamiliar with the actors, it's like Tor Johnson and Richard Keil, Woody Strode and Bud Spencer, or Peter Lorre and Vincent Price suddenly show up, two great colorful actors whose faces are instantly recognizable and have a persona attached to them. Although it isn't their best fight scene, it definitely made me perk up and kept me in the film.

The DVD: Crash Cinema

Picture: Full-screen. When you go to Crash Cinemas web page, the first words you are greeted with are, "Non-Stop Uncut Widescreen Mayhem". Uhhh, well, that was usually the case. Now we get a cruddy tape master that really doesn't help the film at all, making another in the long line of old cheap kung fu transfers destined for discount bins. It is watchable but grainy and dull.

Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English dub. While there really isn't too much 'snap, crackle, pop' that is associated with worn kung fu tracks, it still shows its age and wear with some dub muffle and tinny soundtrack. I thought the dub was pretty loud in most parts too, really burying the music and fx tracks.

Extras: Chapter and Jump to Fight Scene Selections--- Gallery of screencaps (which is one of those features I do not consider an extra at all).

Conclusion: This one falls in the middle. Not so bad that I can say steer clear, but not so good, that, in a realm with so many superior movies, I can say it is all that worthwhile. No, it is squarely in the lukewarm. The lackluster transfer is a downer. In light of companies like Celestial doing a decent job with older kung fu films, the tape transfer makes it a casual buy for fans or just a rental.


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