Moon Warriors (Zhan shen chuan shuo) (1993)
Introduction-Bey Logan - Hong Kong film expert
Audio Commentary-Bey Logan, Mabel Cheung (Producer) And Alex Law (Writer)
Interviews-Crew-Dynamic Duo - Mabel Cheung And Alex Law
Interviews-Crew-The Colour Of Truth - Arthur Wong (Cinematographer)
Featurette-A Tribute To Anita Mui
Theatrical Trailer- 2
Trailer-Hong Kong Legends
|Year Of Production||1993|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Sammo Hung|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
With one director, two action directors, two drama directors and a main star who was on set for 2 days only, Moon Warriors could have been a disorganised mess. Instead it is something quite special; a surprisingly poignant, moving and romantic fantasy wuxia film with appealing leads, inventive action sequences, a killer whale and stunning cinematography. Moon Warriors is the film to introduce doubting friends and partners to the romance of Hong Kong martial arts cinema.
Moon Warriors starts with a burning palace as Emperor Yen Ling (Kenny Bee) and his supporters, including the beautiful Hsien (Maggie Chen), flee from a coup staged by the evil 14th Prince (Kelvin Wong). The fugitives are ambushed in a bamboo grove but are helped by a simple fisherman named Fei (Andy Lau). He does not know the identity of the fugitives but takes them to his village to recover from their wounds. As the 14th Prince's forces search nearby, Fei takes the exiles to a tomb hidden beneath a cliff. This just happens to be the tomb of Yen's ancestors which is how Fei discovers the true identity of his guests.
To try to regain his throne Yen sends Fei and Hsien to an adjoining kingdom to cement an alliance with the ruler and to fetch Yen's betrothed, the princess Yuet (Anita Mui). They are almost too late; assassins attack the kingdom as they arrive but covered by Hsien, Fei and Yuet escape. On their journey back to Yen, Fei and Yuet face attackers, get lost in a forest of thorns and are ambushed by a ninja. Yet, even more dangerous is the affection that starts to form between them. Back at his village Fei the commoner must stand aside and watch as Yen & Yuet are reunited. Also watching is Hsien, who has an agenda of her own. When the Emperor is betrayed and the 14th Prince and his army attack the village, all concerned must make life and death decisions about where their allegiances and loyalties truly lie.
Moon Warriors had 5 directors: main director Sammo Hung, action directors Ching Siu-tung and Corey Yuen and drama directors Mabel Cheung and Alex Law, so it is a credit to all that the film is not a total mess. Instead it is something quite special and, for a wuxia film, touchingly romantic. As Fei, Andy Lau is wonderful. He has obvious screen charisma and his Fei has just the right mix of larrikin, naiveté, confusion and bravado. His scenes with Anita Mui on their journey as their feelings evolve are funny and sweet, although on occasion the film does verge on the saccharine. Imagine a field of flowers, a baby white rabbit and a corny Chinese love song on the soundtrack (it is translated by the subtitles) and you get the idea. Kenny Bee does what is required, but the wonderful Maggie Chen is pretty much wasted. As one of the features discloses, she was on set for only 2 days to film all her close-ups and this clearly affects her performance; all the long shots were doubles and some very obviously are not her!
While romantic, this is indeed an wuxia action film and the action sequences are very impressive. Ching Siu-tung was the fight choreographer on films such as New Dragon Gate Inn (1992), Hero (2002) and House of Flying Daggers (2004) and his work here is frenetic and varied. Indeed the sequence in Moon Warriors in the bamboo forest is very much a practice run for a similar sequence in House of Flying Daggers. If you have seen and enjoyed Ching's work on any of those later films you know what to expect from the action sequences in Moon Warriors.
Moon Warriors is a wuxia film with pretensions to being something more romantic and epic. The sets are spectacular, the action furious and inventive, the colours and cinematography stunning but what sets Moon Warriors apart from other Hong Kong action films is the underlying feeling of melancholy and the themes of impossible love, loyalty and truth that pervade the film.
Visual presentation is an 16x9 enhanced widescreen print in a ratio of 1.78:1, slightly cropped from the original theatrical release ratio of 1.85:1. Moon Warriors is a triumph for cinematographer Arthur Wong (Once Upon A Time in China), (New Dragon Gate Inn). It is a wonderfully framed and colourful film and the presentation here does it full justice. Moon Warriors features a number of slow vista shots; sunrise over the village, a field of flowers, warriors framed by the full moon (which was a real shot, not fake CGI), all rendered in clear and glorious colours, with browns and greens predominating. Brightness levels are fine, skin tones accurate, the blacks solid and shadow detail precise. The night sequence with the village and lights reflecting on the water (54:15-54:26) has all the clarity one could want. Faults are minimal. There is some slight shimmering in the leaves of a forest around the 27 minute mark and some of the daylight scenes from 47:09 could have had better clarity. Otherwise, a great print.
Lip Sync is better than in many Hong Kong films but is still pretty approximate. The English subtitles are in a clean, easily read white text that appear timely and contain no obvious grammatical errors.
The DVD offers Cantonese 5.1 (384 Kbps) and English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps), which really should be the other way around. However, neither is a particularly vibrant 5.1 mix. Both are front oriented with only minor music cues and ambience directed to the surrounds and no discernable sub woofer use. Yet it is still a reasonable audio track - vocals are clear, the clashing of swords and swishing of bamboo effectively rendered.
The music is a esoteric mixture. It varies between Eastern flutes, corny Chinese modern pop songs (which the subtitles translate) and very Morricone sounding brass and effects that might have been lifted straight from the "Dollars" trilogy. While occasionally over the top, the music generally enhances the film experience.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Moon Warriors was released on DVD in Region 1 in 2003; it has trailers & biographies, an alternative ending and a different commentary. However, it is non-anamorphic - a win to Region 4.
Moon Warriors is a wuxia film that is something special. The sets are spectacular, the action furious and inventive, the colours and cinematography stunning but what sets Moon Warriors apart from other Hong Kong action films is the underlying feeling of melancholy and the themes of impossible love, loyalty and truth that pervade the film. Moon Warriors is the film to introduce doubting friends and partners to the romance that is Hong Kong wuxia cinema.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S350, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|