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Three Films with Sammo Hung [Eureka] (Blu-ray Review)

Three Films with Sammo Hung Blu-ray (Eureka) PackshotEureka Entertainment’s Three Films with Sammo Hung includes the master kung-fu filmmaker’s classic films The Iron-Fisted Monk, The Magnificent Butcher, and what is arguably his greatest film, Eastern Condors.

The Iron-Fisted Monk (1977) is Hung’s directorial debut and the film that many credit for introducing many of the choreographic and editing techniques that would go on to redefine the martials arts action film industry follows the story of a Shaolin monk who fights against the oppressive Manchus who have come into town raping and pillaging. A darker and more violent martial arts film than what was common at the time, Hung’s film featured two controversial rape scenes, perhaps one too many to setup up the terror being perpetrated by the main antagonist, the Manchu official (Fung Hark-On). That said, it’s a great directorial debut with fascinating choreography and lots of kinetic energy that keeps the story flowing along with unforced comedic elements, a style Hung would come to perfect.

The Magnificent Butcher (1979)  was not directed by Hung, but directed by Yuen Woo-ping (Drunken Master), and stars Sammo Hung as “Butcher” Lam Sai-wing, a pupil of Wong Fei-hung (the role Jackie Chan played in Drunken Master, but here played by Kwan Tak-hing). Butcher is embroiled not only in an abduction but finds himself framed for murder and having to train under the legendary Drunken Master in order to fight the real murderer and win, to clear his name. Like previous Drunken Master films, this one leans heavily on comedy and isn’t always easy to follow, but the quick pacing and the choreography of the martial arts will have genre fans more than satisfied.

Finally, Eastern Condors (1987) is Hung’s tribute to The Dirty Dozen and arguably his greatest film in terms of plot, action, and cinematography. Ten Chinese American convicts are enlisted and trained to go on a covert mission into Vietnam to destroy a top-secret munitions dump, but the mission goes awry before the group even land behind enemy lines. We get great, high-paced action sequences, fantastic choreography, and some beautiful cinematography with eye catching color tones. Eureka provides the film totally uncut for the first time in the UK.

[envira-album id=”120386″]

The Video

All three films in the Three Films with Sammo Hung collection have been restored in 2K and appear in a 2.35:1 AVC 1080p encodement. They are all remarkably consistent in quality given the span of years that separates them. Each film has a beautiful film grain structure that looks organic with very little source damage, a consistent black level with little to no washout in the shadows and vibrant colors that aren’t oversaturated. Eastern Condors (1987) is the standout, with wonderfully nuanced and extended shadow details and excellent ‘pop’ in the explosions and gunfire. It would make an excellent candidate for a 4K restoration with HDR.

The Audio

All three films come with their original Cantonese monaural mix in LPCM 1.0, additionally The Magnificent Butcher and Eastern Condors also come with alternate Cantonese monaural mixes in LPCM 1.0. All three films are also provided with the classic English dub in LPCM 1.0 mono and a modern English stereo dub in LPCM 2.0.

I based my review mostly on the original monaural mixes and only sampled the other mixes randomly. The original mixes sound good enough, while they do show the limitations of their equipment, with some boxy sounding dialogue and limited dynamic range.

The Supplements

The archival interviews with Sammo Hung, some parts of them repeated across each disc, are interesting to watch, but the audio commentaries yield the most information.

  • O-Card Slipcase
  • Limited Edition Collector’s Booklet with new writing on each film by James Oliver

The Iron-Fisted Monk

  • Commentary by Frank Djeng
  • Interview with Sammo #1 (1.78:1; 720p)
  • Interview with Sammo #2 (1.33:1; 1080p)
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

The Magnificent Butcher

  • Commentary by Mike Leeder and Arne Venema
  • Interview with Sammo #1 (1.78:1; 720p)
  • Interview with Sammo #2 (1.33:1; 1080p)
  • Interview with Yuen Woo-ping (1.78:1; 720p)
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Eastern Condors

  • Commentary by Mike Leeder and Arne Venema
  • Commentary by Frank Djeng
  • Eastern Condors: Export Version
  • Sammo on Eastern Condors (1.33:1; 720p)
  • Sammo on Jackie Chan & Yuen Biao (1.33:1; 720p)
  • Yuen Wah Interview (2.35:1; 1080p)
  • Original Opening & Closing Credits (1.33:1; 1080p)
  • Eastern Condors Live! (1.33:1; 1080p)
  • Trailers:
    • Teaser Trailer
    • Hong Kong Trailer
    • Japanese Trailer

The Final Assessment

Three Films with Sammo Hung includes three kung-fu classics in what are fantastic new 2K restorations served up on Blu-ray by Eureka Entertainment. If you’re a genre fan, then definitely grab this collection up, and thank Eureka for releasing them.

Three Films with Sammo Hung is out on Blu-ray 7 October 2019 in the UK from Eureka Entertainment

3.6 / 5 TheaterByte Rating
{{ reviewsOverall }} / 5 User Rating (0 votes)
UK:18Rating Certificate
Sammo Hung (The Iron-Fisted Monk, Eastern Condors) | Woo-Ping Yuen (The Magnificent Butcher)Director
Feng Huang, Pro Hung Ching, Yu Ting (The Iron-Fisted Monk) | Edward Tang (as Ching-Sheng Teng), Jing Wong (The Magnificent Butcher) | Barry Wong (Eastern Condors)Writer
7 October 2019Release Date
2.35:1Aspect Ratio
AVC 1080pVideo
Cantonese Mono LPCM 1.0Audio
Alternate Cantonese Mono LPCM 1.0 | Classic English Dub Mono LPCM 1.0 | Modern English Dub Stereo LPCM 2.0Secondary Audio
The Creative Content
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
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