Iron Fisted Monk (San De huo shang yu Chong Mi Liu) (1977)

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Released 24-Jul-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Martial Arts Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Bey Logan (Hong Kong Cinema Expert)
Gallery-Photo
Biographies-Cast-Sammo Hung-Animated Biography Showcase
Theatrical Trailer-2
Interviews-Cast-Sammo Hung
Featurette-Restoration Featurette
Trailer-Hong Kong Legends
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1977
Running Time 87:18
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (76:52) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Sammo Hung Kam-Bo
Studio
Distributor
Fortune Star
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Sammo Hung Kam-Bo
Sing Chen
James Tien
Hark-On Fung
Dean Shek
Sai-kun Yam
Casanova Wong
Ching-Ying Lam
Ma Wu
Fat Chung
Lung Chan
Eric Tsang
Mars
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Hsun Chi Chen


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 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 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 film marked the directorial debut of Sammo Hung, and an auspicious debut it was.

    The story is somewhat standard for a kung fu action film. Sammo plays Husker, who is studying at the Shaolin Temple so that he can revenge the murder of his uncle by a bunch of Manchus. Meanwhile Liang (Lo Hoi Pang), a worker at a dye factory, goes berserk when much the same bunch of Manchus rape his sister, who later kills herself. Liang kills a Manchu to whom Sammo is in the middle of teaching a lesson. A Manchu official (Fung Hark On) decides that the dye factory is involved, mainly because the Manchus have already been frustrated in their attempts to take over the factory via a scam. With the help of a Shaolin monk named Tak (Chen Sing) Husker takes on the Manchus in a fight to the death.

    The story, while well worked out, is merely the pretext for numerous spectacular martial arts sequences using a variety of styles, both of the Southern and Northern varieties. The final sequence, where Husker and Tak take on the entire Manchu population, is as breathtaking a sequence of martial arts combat as I have seen, with excellent direction and choreography. The Manchus are portrayed as extremely evil, so viewers should be warned that there is a lengthy rape scene in the film. The film also has the usual low grade and often tasteless comedy, including a scene in a brothel which ends up with Sammo fighting some of those nasty Manchu guys.

    Also in the supporting cast is Lam Ching Ying of Mr Vampire fame, Wu Ma as one of the brothel patrons and a young Eric Tsang. Sai Kun Yam from Iron Monkey plays one of the baddies, and Dean Shek, Casanova Wong and James Tien round out an exceptional cast. A lot of the film seems familiar if you have seen a lot of kung fu films, but in its day it was quite innovative. This is, despite a few less than tasteful scenes, a very entertaining martial arts opus that is worthy of being described as a classic.

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Transfer Quality

Video

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

    This transfer is not bad considering the age of the film and the less than optimal film storage techniques in Hong Kong. It is reasonably sharp. Colour is quite good, with some bright primary colours. Flesh tones are a little on the brown side. Shadow detail is adequate.

    There are some film artefacts, being flecks and occasional faint scratches. There is a fair bit of film grain. The film flickers quite a lot, and there are signs of deterioration in the film stock from time to time. There is some telecine wobble visible at various stages during the film. There is also some edge enhancement.

    Optional subtitles are provided which are in a clear white font and are well-timed.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer change well placed at a cut at 76:52.

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

Audio

    Instead of the original mono soundtrack we get a Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 remix, plus an alternative English dub also in surround. I listened to the former in full and sampled the latter.

    The surround track is really just a three channel mix with some occasional effects and music emanating from the rear speakers. Low frequency effects are used to emphasise the punches and kicks in some of the fights, plus they add a bit of oomph to the music. The audio is serviceable but there is really no reason why we had to have a surround remix.

    Dialogue is clear throughout, with a little bit of distortion particularly in the higher frequencies. The film is dubbed even in the original soundtrack, and so audio sync is not the best.

    The music sounds as if it was partly composed for the film and partly sourced from earlier recordings. The music sometimes sounds as though it was recorded a long time before the film. That being said, and despite some of it being overly dramatic, the score fits the film quite well.

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

Extras

Menu Animation & Audio

    The menu features some scenes from the movie and some music not from the movie.

Audio Commentary-Bey Logan (Hong Kong Cinema Expert)

    Ahhh, Bey Logan again. The man obviously knows more about Hong Kong cinema than just about anyone alive. This is an entertaining commentary with plenty of information, even down to the differing colour of blood between Golden Harvest and Shaw Brothers. Well worth a listen.

Theatrical Trailers (5:38)

    The usual pair of trailers, one for the UK DVD release and one original Hong Kong trailer.

Gallery-Photo

    A series of stills.

Biographies-Cast-Sammo Hung-Animated Biography Showcase (21:52)

    A scrolling text biography which is also read out by American Voice Over Man.

Interviews-Cast-Sammo Hung (9:36)

    This interview is actually about the film, unlike similar interviews on some of Hong Kong Legend's other discs, and is well worth watching for some insights into Sammo's approach to the film.

Featurette-Restoration Featurette (18:24)

    This featurette appeared on another disc I reviewed. It is basically a puff piece about HKL's restorations and has nothing to do with the film on this disc. It isn't very interesting or informative either.

Trailers-Hong Kong Legends (8:48)

    Trailers and disc specifications for other Hong Kong Legends releases. The films are Warriors Two, Eastern Condors, Encounters of a Spooky Kind, Story of Ricky and Prodigal Son.

R4 vs R1

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

    This release is taken from the UK Region 2 release.

    There is a Hong Kong release which is not 16x9 enhanced, although it does include a Mandarin surround track in addition to the Cantonese. The only extras are trailers and cast biographies.

    The US Region 1 has only a handful of trailers as extras. However in addition to Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes in Cantonese and English, it also has DTS soundtracks in both languages and the original Cantonese mono as an option. Image quality looks to be on a par with the Region 4.

    So if you want the original soundtrack the Region 1 is the one to go for. If you want extras, then get the Region 4.

Summary

    One of the best martial arts films ever made, this is well worth the modest outlay.

    The video quality is average, mainly due to the condition of the source material.

    The audio quality is satisfactory.

    Some good extras and some which are only taking up disc space.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS9100ES, using HDMI 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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