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Opium And The Kung-Fu Master and Hong Kong Godfather DVD Reviews


“Hong Kong Godfather” and “Opium And The Kung-Fu Master” are two entertaining Shaw Bros. flicks.

“Hong Kong Godfather,” which sees three employees of a slain mafia boss seeking vengeance against their boss’s murderer/traitor, is an interesting movie. Yes, it has a fairly conventional plot, but the way the story unfolds is fairly Unconventional. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen, the film explodes with shocking violence leaving you wondering who will come out alive.

Speaking of the violence, this movie has some crazy, intense action set pieces. Rather than typical gunplay or martial arts scenes, most of the fight sequences involve bloody, brutal knife/cleaver fights in places such as a cramped house and even a mall escalator. Why hardly anyone uses a gun is beyond me, but it certainly makes the fights more engaging.

Another refreshing aspect of ‘Godfather’ is the attention to character. The movie deliberately starts slow to let the audience get to know the main characters and villains. In many instances, Shaw Brothers movies will dive right into the action, but that’s not the case here thankfully.

With the DVD box tagline stating “He’s gotta kick the habit before he can kick ass,” it’s safe to assume that you know what “Opium And The Kung-Fu Master” will be about- opium addiction and kung-fu action. To no surprise, the plot involves the people of a small village and the film’s hero (a kung-fu master/teacher by the name of Tieh Chao-San) becoming addicted to opium when a criminal operated opium house opens up in their small town. Now, Tieh has to try and get himself clean and use his martial arts skills to beat down the bad guys and shut down the opium house for good.

Despite impressive fighting sequences on roofs and a rice house involving everything from spears and poles to sword and fists, ‘Opium’ isn’t as entertaining as I had expected. The story is thin, there are far too many characters cluttering up the film, the pace is rather slow, and the film beats you over the head with its anti-opium messages. In fact, the film’s hero even shouts “Opium, you are an evil! A terrible monster!” in one scene. Talk about overstating the obvious…

Summary: Shaw Brothers fans will be pleasantly surprised by these two little known films.

Once again, the remastered prints for both of these films are stunning. Funimation is truly doing a bang up job with these Shaw Bros. DVDs. Both films are presented in widescreen.

‘Opium’ contains both Mandarin Mono and English Stereo audio tracks. The English track is not as good as the previous Shaw releases. The Mandarin track is the better of the two acting wise, but it does suffer from some scratchy audio quality. ‘Godfather’ only has 1 track- a Cantonese Stereo track (with optional subtitles). I have no complaints with this track as it delivered in all areas.

The only extras on both discs are trailers for “Ichi,” “Shinobi,” “Hana,” “Love And Honor,” “Daytime Drinking,” “Genghis Khan,” “Mushi-Shi,” “Ghost Train,” and the “Hong Kong Connection” series.

April 21, 2010 - Posted by | 1 | ,

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