Legend of a Fighter (Huo Yuan-Jia) (1982)

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Released 24-Jul-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Menu Animation & Audio
Gallery-Photo
Biographies-Crew-Yuen Woo Ping - Animated Biography Showcase
Biographies-Cast-Leung Kar Yan - Animated Biography Showcase
Theatrical Trailer-2, Including Deleted Footage
Interviews-Crew-Yuen Woo Ping
Interviews-Cast-Leung Kar Yan
Trailer-Hong Kong Legends
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 88:47
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (68:52) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Woo-ping Yuen
Studio
Distributor
Seasonal Film Corp
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring See-Yuen Ng
Hark-On Fung
Phillip Ko
Yasuaki Kurata
Ka-Yan Leung
Siu-Lung Leung
Cheung-Yan Yuen
Yat Chor Yuen
Ping-Ao Wei
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This martial arts film is a rendition of the story of Fok Yun Gap. If you recall the Bruce Lee film Fist of Fury, Lee played a character who was a student of Fok Yun Gap and took revenge on the Japanese for his sifu's death. The Lee film was remade as Fist of Legend with Jet Li, and a new film released in June 2006 called Fearless stars Li as Fok Yun Gap.

    This earlier version of the story of this real-life character stars Cheung Yan Yeun. In this film his character is called Yuan Chia. The film opens as the young Yuan Chia (Yuen Yat Chor) wants his father to teach him martial arts. But his father considers him a weak son and has instead hired tutor Chiang Ho Shan (Yasuaki Kurata) to educate him. But Chiang is actually a Japanese martial artist who has come to spy on the Ho family martial arts style. While the elder Ho refuses to allow anyone to watch the family practice (anyone who watches must tear their own eyes out), Chiang manages to spy on them while teaching the younger Ho martial arts techniques.

    Years pass and young Ho grows up into Cheung Yan Yeun. Eventually his aged father discovers his son's kung fu abilities and that they surpass those of any of his brothers, and so names him his heir. The Ho family is threatened by a Japanese karate expert determined to prove his techniques superior to those of any Chinese.

    The movie is somewhat episodic, with a couple of sequences that did not really need to be there to advance the story. However the martial arts on display are exceptional, with little obvious wirework and plenty of bone-breaking, jaw-crunching action. There are the usual comedy relief elements, though some are expertly done, such as the kung fu calligraphy scenes. There are also fewer such scenes than is usual in say the Sammo Hung equivalents. Director Yuen Woo Ping and his team of choreographers named Yuen make the fight scenes very satisfying to watch. Despite the problems with the video and the audio I quite enjoyed this movie. I wish that there was a better DVD available though. Hong Kong Legends should have considered remastering this title before releasing it here.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of about 1.73:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    There are several significant problems with the transfer, one of which is audio related. The main video one is that this is a cropped transfer. The original aspect ratio was 2.35:1, as can be seen from the trailer included as an extra. Shots often look cramped, and while the cropping is not a disaster like a pan and scan version would be the original aspect ratio would be preferable by far.

    The other issue I noticed was a small white flash during fast motion sequences, generally at the start of the fast motion. On going through these frame-by-frame it turns out that there are large macro-blocking artefacts. These only appear for a frame or two but they are noticeable.

    Generally the transfer is quite clear and without any serious film artefacts. There are some scratches and occasional flecks and dirt. At 53:30 a white spot which seems to be a pinprick hole appears in the bottom left corner and remains there for about 2 minutes. Colour is good, though in keeping with other Hong Kong Legends transfer is skewed towards red, where prints released in Hong Kong tend to look greenish. It is also a little washed out looking. Some motion blurring is evident, consistent with the overuse of noise filters, but not to any serious extent. This does mean, though, that the image is a little soft.

    Optional subtitles are provided in English. These appear to be translations of the Mandarin dialogue as they differ from the English dubbed dialogue. The subtitles are easy to read and well-timed in relation to the dialogue.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer break placed during a fade at 68:52.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two audio tracks, both being dubbed and both in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. I listened to the Mandarin track and sampled the English one. For some reason the latter is the default.

    The audio is reasonable apart from the glitch noted below. There is some slight distortion in the louder passages but the dialogue seems to be clear. The acoustics do not always seem to match the visuals but that is something not unexpected with a dubbed soundtrack. Audio sync seems to be ok with the effects, but the lip movements generally do not match the sounds being made, probably because the actors were speaking in a variety of languages.

    At about the 19 minute mark the left channel starts to vary in volume, so that the audio seems to come from the right channel, then centres again, then moves to the right again and so on. This continues for about twenty minutes. At around the 40 minute mark the audio suddenly becomes louder and both channels are at the same level again, continuing without glitches for the rest of the movie.

    The score sounds like a compilation of music taken from stock sources, including a set of dramatic chords that used to appear on various TV shows in the 1970s and which I have not heard for years. If you used to watch shows like Homicide and Division 4 (or even Bluey) you'll know this music when you hear it. The music sounds like it is being played on an old Victrola on set and is often far too dramatic for the action, which adds to the amusement I guess.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu Animation & Audio

    Some generic music accompanies highlights from the film.

Gallery-Photo

    A number of production stills.

Biographies-Crew-Yuen Woo Ping - Animated Biography Showcase (9:45)

   A scrolling biography of the director complete with voice over.

Biographies-Cast-Leung Kar Yan - Animated Biography Showcase (11:46)

   A scrolling biography of the star complete with voice over.

Theatrical Trailers-Including Deleted Footage (6:09)

    The UK DVD release trailer is complemented by an original Hong Kong trailer which includes a duel between our hero and a fencer which was not part of the final version of the film.

Interviews-Crew-Yuen Woo Ping (23:18)

    Both this and the next interview look to have been done in the early 1990s by Toby Russell of Eastern Heroes fame and who is also the son of director Ken. Both are in 1.33:1, and are in Cantonese with English subtitles. Yuen Woo Ping discusses all aspects of his career to that date, though often his answers are just the one sentence and most of the talking seems to be done by the interviewer.

Interviews-Cast-Leung Kar Yan (9:33)

    Again, this interview is not specific to the film as Leung discusses his career in front of and behind the camera.

Trailer-Hong Kong Legends (8:49)

    A batch of trailers for other Hong Kong Legends releases. These are Ninja in the Dragon's Den, Millionaires Express, In the Line of Duty, Encounters of a Spooky Kind and New Dragon Gate Inn.

R4 vs R1

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

    At the moment the UK Region 2 appears to be the only alternative to the Region 4. As the Region 4 is a port of the Region 2 there is no reason to shop overseas unless you can get it cheaper. The reviews of the Region 2 indicate the same flaws with the video and audio present on the Region 4.

Summary

    Some excellent martial arts in this film, and although as a film it doesn't quite hang together it is still very enjoyable.

    The video quality is not very good, and the film is cropped significantly.

    The audio quality is generally okay but there is an annoying glitch in the first half.

    Some interesting extras but unusually from this source no audio commentary.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, July 10, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS9100ES, using DVI output
DisplaySony VPL-HS60 LCD Projector projected to 80" screen. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES for surrounds, Elektra Reference power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV

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