The Young Master (Shi di chu ma): Special Collectors Edition (1980)

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Released 21-Apr-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Martial Arts Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Bey Logan (Hong Kong Film Expert)
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-The Master: Interview With Master Wong In-Sik
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Director's Workshop: Interview With Jackie Chan
Trailer-Hong Kong Legends
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1980
Running Time 101:26
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (77:25) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jackie Chan
Fortune Star
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Jackie Chan
Biao Yuen
Wei Pei
Li-Li Li
Kien Shih
Ing-Sik Whang
Hark-On Fung
Hoi San Lee
Feng Tien
Feng Feng
Mui Sang Fan
Yim Chan Tang
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Akira Inoue
Ryudo Uzaki

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.30:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The Young Master was Jackie Chan's first film back at Golden Harvest after becoming a major star. He was given carte blanche to direct and star in this movie, and initially turned in a cut running three hours long. A lot of footage was trimmed, reducing the film back to just over one hundred minutes - more in line with the expectations of distributors.

    Lung (Chan) and Jing (Wei Pei) are both students at a martial arts school. They are also orphans; Lung looks up to Jing as his big brother. Jing is the better martial artist, but when he apparently injures himself, Lung has to take over at the Lion Dance competition, where the school is up against a rival school. In the midst of the competition, Lung discovers than Jing is operating the lion's head for the rival school, and has been paid off by them to help them win, which they do.

    Jing is soon found out and banished from the school, but their master soon has second thoughts and despatches Lung to bring him back. Jing has fallen in with some evildoers and helps them rescue their boss Kam (Whang Ing Sik) from imprisonment. Subsequently Lung is mistaken for Jing and is captured by the local law enforcement family, Shek Kin (the marshal), Yuen Biao (his son) and Li-Li Li (his daughter), all of whom are martial artists as well. Lung needs to free himself, rescue Jing from the clutches of the bad guys, and defeat Kam.

    This is a mixed bag of a film. All of the best martial arts are at the beginning of the movie, the highlights being: the impressive lion dancing, a short sequence where Lung fights Brother Bill (Fan Mui Sang) with a fan, and a fight with swords in an abandoned temple. There is a less than impressive joust between Chan and Biao with benches, and while the climactic battle between Lung and Kam runs almost 20 minutes, Chan chooses not to use much in the way of technique, making it very one-sided. Whang Ing Sik is a hapkido master, and while his moves are very impressive, having what amounts to a punching bag on the other side reduces the effectiveness of the fight.

    There are some impressive stunts as well, with Chan attempting to escape from his captors in a dead-end by walking up one wall while fully outstretched, with hands on an opposite wall - a stunt requiring exceptional strength.

    Chan's direction is good, with some excellent editing, but the whole does not equal the sum of its parts, and after a fine start the film gets a bit tedious towards the end. Despite that, The Young Master is still better than most kung fu flicks, and is well presented on this Hong Kong Legends disc distributed by Universal.

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Transfer Quality


    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.30:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio was 2.35:1.

    This is a nice, sharp print with a fine level of detail, though it is by no means perfect. Brightness and contrast are good, as is the colour, which is well reproduced, especially on the yellow lion costume at the beginning of the film. Black levels are not bad, but there is low level noise visible in some sequences shot in low light levels.

    One problem is that the image tends to be distorted in some shots, as if the negative was not flat either in the camera or in the telecine machine.

    On the plus side, there are very few film artefacts. All I noticed was the occasional faint scratch. There is noticeable flicker, with some frames seemingly brighter than others.

    Optional English subtitles are delivered in a good-sized white font, and seem to translate all of the dialogue. I'm not sure about the spelling of marshal as marshall.

    This is an RSDL-formatted disc, with the layer change placed at 77:25, mid-scene but only slightly disruptive. It could easily have been better placed.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The default audio track is Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1, with an alternative English dub.

    The audio is not bad for a remix. While the surround remix is not seamless, most of the audio action comes from the front speakers, with the subwoofer adding emphasis to various punches, kicks and other bits of mayhem. The rear speakers are used for ambience, with bird sounds and crickets chirping away. Less successful is the sound of firecrackers prior to the lion dance sequence, which just doesn't sound right.

    Otherwise the audio sounds good. Of course it is all dubbed, so audio sync is approximate at best. Dialogue comes across clearly all of the time.

    The music score seems to have been written by Gustav Holst. Actually, it is credited to Frankie Chan, but there is much use of excerpts from Holst's suite The Planets, especially Mars, The Bringer of War. According to Bey Logan there are also excerpts from John Barry's score for The Game of Death. The recording of the Holst music is congested and boxy-sounding.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Menu Animation & Audio

    The menu has some generic music and is animated with a scrolling panorama over some rocky ground and with excerpts from the film.

Audio Commentary-Bey Logan (Hong Kong Film Expert)

    Yet another breathless audio commentary by Bey Logan. He speaks non-stop and probably has more to say than he is able to get out in the limited time available. What I like about his commentaries is not just his knowledge about the movies and their qualities, but also the details about his performers. He knows even the names of minor stuntmen and bit-part players. This commentary is never dull and a mine of information.

Theatrical Trailers (5:37)

    An original trailer in good condition, with about 45 seconds of distributor and producer branding at the front, plus the Hong Kong Legends trailer for this release.

Featurette-The Master: Interview With Master Wong In-Sik (28:03)

    A long interview in English with the hapkido master. It is interesting but a bit of a grind, because his English is not fluent despite residing for many years in Canada, where he runs a hapkido school. There are no subtitles.

Deleted Scene (2:54)

    This scene demonstrates Chan's awesome pole technique, and is bookended by the sequences left in the film to give some context to it. It has English-dubbed audio.

Featurette-Director's Workshop: Interview With Jackie Chan (6:12)

    Jackie talks to camera about his editing of the film, and we see him at the editing machine showing how some sequences work. The sound is variable due to his continual movements bumping the lapel microphone. The audio also jumps in volume for a few seconds when there is a close-up on the machine.

Trailers-Iron Monkey, Fist of Fury, Armour of God, Police Story, Once Upon a Time in China (9:14)

    Trailers for the first wave of Hong Kong Legends releases.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There has been a previous Region 4 release from MRA in NTSC format. According to the previous review on this website, the quality was appalling. If you have this disc, ditch it and buy the new one.

    A Hong Kong All Regions release from Mega Star is in the correct aspect ratio but not 16x9 enhanced. Another release from Universe is similarly configured; both have trailers and cast and crew biographies.

    The US Region 1 release from Fox has some trailers and is 2.35:1 and 16x9 enhanced. It includes Cantonese and English DTS 5.1 soundtracks, as well as Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1. Reports indicate that the video is sharper and more detailed than the UK Hong Kong Legends release, but that it is cropped at the top of the frame. The audio is reported as remixed by adding new sound effects for the rear channels.

    The UK Region 2 release from Hong Kong Legends is the same as the Region 4.

    Given the problems with the audio of the Region 1, and the extras on the Region 4, I think the Region 4 wins out, except of course in comparison to the Region 2.


    An entertaining film from Jackie Chan, but not his best work.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is good.

    There are some interesting extras, mainly the audio commentary.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Friday, April 22, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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