Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 2nd, 2017
Theatrical Release Dates: Hong Kong, 1974 / USA, 1981 (Slaughter in San Francisco), USA, 1981 (An Eye for an Eye), USA, 1986 (Firewalker)
Directors: Wei Lo (Slaughter in San Francisco), Steve Carver (An Eye for an Eye), J. Lee Thompson (Firewalker)
Cast: Chuck Norris, Don Wong, Sylvia Chang (Slaughter in San Francisco), Chuck Norris, Christopher Lee, Richard Roundtree, Matt Clark, Maggie Cooper, Rosalind Chao (An Eye for an Eye), Chuck Norris, Louis Gossett Jr., Melody Anderson, Will Sampson, Sonny Landham (Firewalker)
DVD released: April 5th, 2017
Approximate running times: 78 minutes (Slaughter in San Francisco), 100 minutes (An Eye for an Eye), 105 minutes (Firewalker)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Slaughter in San Francisco), 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (An Eye for an Eye / Firewalker)
Rating: R 18+ (Australia)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English (All Films)
DVD Release: Umbrella Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC (Slaughter in San Francisco), Region 4 PAL (An Eye for an Eye / Firewalker)
Retail Price: $24.99
Slaughter in San Francisco: Officer Wong is fired by his supervisor for crossing the line. From there his former partner is murdered by the same people who tried to kidnapped him. Undeterred Wong continues to search for the truth and along the way he discovers that the corruption has found its way into the police department.
Though this film is most known under the title of Slaughter in San Francisco, it was originally released under the title Yellow Faced Tiger, a direct translation of the Chinese title. Yellow Faced Tiger is one of two films Lo Wei directed back to back in San Francisco, the other film being Chinatown Capers and the Officer Wong character makes a cameo appearance in that film.
Though Chuck Norris has been put forth as the star of this film. There real star of this film is Don Wong (Along Comes the Tiger, Ninja Thunderbolt) in the role of officer Wong. He was originally groomed by Golden Harvest as an heir apparent to the void left behind by Bruce Lee’s tragic death. Performance wise he lacks the charisma that made Bruce Lee, a film icon. Fortunately, when it comes to the fight scenes he delivers the goods.
Content wise, this film is a mix of police procedural and martial arts. The narrative is by the numbers and the characters are all caricatures that have become synonymous with the martial arts genre. The performances are best described as serviceable. With this film’s standout performance being Sylvia Chang (He Lives By Night, Mountains May Depart) in the role of the Slaughter’s Brothers’ girlfriend. And her character also plays a large role in the story at hand, since her parents have been wrongly accused of murder.
As mentioned before this film features Chuck Norris an early film role. It is not surprising that Golden Harvest brought him back as the main villain. Since he had previous played a villainous role in The Way of the Dragon. Chuck Norris once again delivers a convincing bad guy, who’s most memorable moment is a scene where his character slaps Sylvia Chang’s character shirtless and all the while laughing diabolically.
An Eye for an Eye: A hardnose cop named Sean Kane resigns after his partner is murdered during an undercover operation. Not willing to let sleeping dogs lie, he starts he own investigation into an underworld crime syndicate that ordered the ambush. Will his quest for the truth lead to his own demise or will his investigation uncover a corruption involving those he trusts?
An Eye for an Eye was directed by Steve Carver who’s other notable films include, The Area, Big Bad Mama, Drum and Lone Wolf McQuade. Key collaborators on An Eye For an Eye include, cinematographer Roger Shearman (A Force of One) and composer William Goldstein (Force: Five, Shocker).
Content wise, this film has all of the ingredients that have since come to define 1980’s action cinema. Also, there is a vigilante vibe to the story at hand, which gives this film a harder edge then the majority of Chuck Norris’s films. And when it comes to the action set pieces. This film delivers in spades. With this film’s standout action set piece being its explosive finale.
Performance wise, the cast are all very good in their respective roles. With the main attraction of this film being Chuck Norris who delivers one of his better performances. Other notable cast members include, Christopher Lee (The Wicker Man) in a villain role, Richard Roundtree (Shaft) in the role of Kane’s supervisor Captain Stevens, Rosalind Chao (Battle Creek Brawl) in the role of Linda Chan, the wife of Kane’s partner who was murdered by the triads and Mako (The Sand Pebbles) in the role of Linda’s father and Kane’s mentor.
Firewalker: Max Donigan and Leo Porter are best friends and thrill seekers, who travel the world looking for treasure. Patricia Goodwin is a young woman who since a very young age has been having visions and because of this power, she has come into the possession of a map that reveals the location of an ancient Aztec treasure. Needing help securing the Aztec Treasure, she hires Donlgan and Porter.
Firewalker was directed by J. Lee Thompson who’s other notable films include, Cape Fear (1962), Happy Birthday to Me and 10 to Midnight. Key collaborators on Firewalker include, cinematographer Alex Phillips Jr. (Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Demonoid) and composer Gary Chang (52 Pick-Up, The Perfect Weapon).
The buddy film has long been a staple of cinema. With some of the earliest examples being Laurel and Hardy films from the 1930’s. And though the relationship between the two leads characters in Firewalker is glue that holds everything together. One must not overlooked the importance that satire plays in the story at hand.
The humor can be felt throughout this film. And though there is never a shortage of one liners. Another area where the humor far exceeds expectations is its action set pieces which are filled with slapstick. The performances are all very enjoyable and there is a strong chemistry between Chuck Norris in the role of Max Donigan and Louis Gossett Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman) in the role of Leo Porter. Another key component to enjoying this film is Melody Anderson (Flash Gordon, Dead & Buried) in the role of Patricia Goodwin, the young woman who hires Max Donigan and Leo Porter.
All three films included as part of this collection are presented in an anamorphic widescreen that retains their intended aspect ratios.
Slaughter in San Francisco comes from an unrestored source that has color fluctuation, black levels are lacking in detail and print related damage is present throughout. This release of Slaughter in San Francisco is under the alternate title Yellow Faced Tiger and the source of this transfer is Fortune Star. Over the years this film has been released by budget label companies under the titled Slaughter in San Francisco and all of these releases are very poor transfers that are unwatchable. Needless to say, despite the short comings of the transfer used for this release from Umbrella Entertainment. The end result is still something that blows away all previous home video releases.
The sources for An Eye for an Eye and Firewalker are very clean and there is no noticeable source damage. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, details look crisp and black levels remain strong throughout. There are no issues with compression with any of the transfers.
Each film comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English.
Slaughter in San Francisco has some mild background noise, dialog is clear and everything sounds balanced. Range wise this film is the most limited of the three from this collection. It should be noted that all the dialog and sound was recorded in post-production.
The audio mixes for An Eye for an Eye and Firewalker are in very good shape. The sound, clean, dialog is always clear and everything sounds balance. Range wise both of these audio mixes get the job done and more action oriented moments always sound robust.
This collection comes with no extra content.
Overall a trio of Chuck Norris films gets a very affordable release from Umbrella Entertainment.