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The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter Blu-ray Review

“The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter” is a must see for the end battle alone.

Directed by Lau Kar-leung, “The 8 Diagram Pole Fighters” is a 1984 Shaw Brothers production. The story involves a General betraying the Yang family by siding with the Mongols. The Yang father and 5 brothers are massacred, but 2 sons manage to survive. The 6th son has serious PTSD and may have lost his mind. He returns home to his mother and 2 sisters. The 5th son flees to a monastery to become a Monk, but they are hesitant but accepting him due to his impatience, rage and violence. Eventually, he joins the fold, but when his sister (the 8th child) is kidnapped by Mongols, he must try and save her and seek revenge for his family.

Based on the Yang family legends, “The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter” is a decidedly dark martial arts film about violence, death, a broken family, betrayal and revenge. There’s not much in the way of humor here which is not the norm for a Shaw Brothers film, but I found that refreshing. There’s something challenging about this story in that the characters are rather frustrating and deeply flawed. They aren’t your typical heroes. Gordon Liu (the 5th Son) and Alexander Fu/Fu Sheng who played the 6th son (who tragically passed away during filming) both bring these complex characters to life with their memorable performances.

Given that “The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter” is a martial arts film, you’re probably all wondering how the action is. Even before the climactic battle (which I’ll get to in a bit), the action is fast and furious. There are numerous sequences involving spear and pole battles. There’s no shortage of action in this movie, that’s for sure. However, the real draw is the end battle which absolutely floored me. Without spoiling everything, let me just say it involves bamboo, teeth, coffins stacked on top of one another, the 8th child strapped to the back of the 5th son, blood, impalements, spears, and poles. It’s an intense, intricate battle that makes the whole movie worthwhile. The staging of this sequence is so complex and wild that it will blow the mind of even the most avid kung fu fan.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.35:1 1080p. How does it look? This disc features a 2K restoration from the original camera negative. Much like other recent Shaw Brothers titles, this one is nothing short of fantastic. The print is colorful and cleaned up.

Audio Track: Cantonese, Mandarin and English 1.0. How do they sound? Sadly, none of the tracks are great. The Mandarin track arguably has the most oomph to it but the audio is uneven at best. The English dub is tolerable but a bit muted. The Cantonese track is adequate but a bit scratchy in terms of dialogue. 

Extras:
* Image gallery
* Theatrical and Digital reissue trailers
* Alternate opening credits
* “A Tribute To Fu Sheng”- A short about the late actor Alexander Fu Sheng.
* 3 separate 2004 interviews with cast members Gordon Liu, Lily Li and Yeung Ching-ching
* Commentary by author Jonathan Clements
* A video appreciation by film critic/film historian Tony Rayns on “The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter.”
* A booklet featuring credits, photos, restoration notes, and an essay by writer/author Terrence J. Brady. 

April 26, 2022 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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