Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 12th, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: Taiwan, 1977
Director: Wu Ma
Cast: Wang Tao, Tung Wei, Lung Chun-Erk, Li Ming-Wen, Gam Ming (Tommy Lee)
DVD released: August 22nd, 2006
Approximate running time: 85 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo & mono
DVD Release: BCI Eclipse/Rarescope
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $9.98
Yan (Wang Tao) as a young boy witnessed the death of his father at the hands of a man named Hunchback (Tommy Lee). Years later Yan seeks revenge for his dead father. The man who killed his father is now the leader of the Black Dragon Society. One by one Yan eliminate members of the Black Dragon Society as he inches closer to completing his revenge in a final showdown verse the Hunchback.
Sergio Leone borrowed many elements for his 1964 western A Fistful of Dollars from Akira Kurosawa’s 1961 samurai film Yojimbo. So it would come as no surprise that Leone masterpiece Once Upon a Time in the West would be used as a blueprint for the martial arts film Along Comes the Tiger. The comparisons between the two are obvious form the films opening frames in which we see a young boy holding up his father on his shoulders while his father has a noose around his neck. Later in the film we see more of this scene as it is played as dream sequence. This is really where the similarities of the two films end with Along Comes the Tiger coming up short in the epic department despite such a grand opening and set up.
The film is the brain child of actor Wang Tao who produced and also wrote the story which the screenplay was based on. Wang Tao plays Yan or as he is later referred to in the film as “The Scared Cloud” or Mirclae Man” depending on which language option you choose. Yan is a man who says very little and this most likely has to do with the trauma of watching his father die. He has only one goal and that is too kill the man who is responsible for killing his father.
The cast is filled with colorful characters like the chief played by Kao Fei. He is obsessed with cleanliness as he washes his hands in a silver bowl every time he gets blood on them. Then there is Madman south who has group of female assassins who kill their prey with fans that have blades hidden inside of them. Gam Ming (Tommy Lee) plays the deformed boss “Hunchback” and he uses his deformity to its fullest in every fight.
The films fight scenes are all really good with the scene where Yan fights the girls with fans being one of the films most stand out moments. Wu Ma’s direction is pretty standard outside of the action scenes. Each of the films leads characters gets a theme that plays every time they enter a scene which is something Ennio Morricone used for his score of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West.
Overall Along Comes the Tiger is a solid martial arts film that makes up for its lack of story with its action set pieces.
Along Comes the Tiger is presented in an anamorphic Widescreen that preserves the films original aspect ratio. Many martial arts films and films made in Hong Kong in general have not been well preserved through the years with many films being lost forever. The box art for this release states that this film had been though lost for many years until a film print was recently discovered and used as the source for this releases transfer. This transfer was sourced from the films original 35mm negative. Despite being sourced from the films original 35mm negative the film still looks ruff around the edges with noticeable print damage through out. The colors and image fluctuates in quality through out the duration of the film. Overall Along Comes the Tiger is Rarescope’s best looking transfer to date.
This release comes with four audio options include Mandarin in Dolby Digital mono and Dolby Digital stereo remix and English in Dolby Digital mono and Dolby Digital stereo remix. The original English mono mix is in the worst shape of the four audio choices included as it has some minor distortion issues and noticeable hiss. The English Stereo mix filters out most of the hiss and gives the soundtrack a slightly fuller sound. The Dolby Digital mono and Dolby Digital stereo Mandarin mixes are sound the best out of the audio choices included with the main difference between the two being that the Dolby Digital stereo mix sound more robust of the two. Removable English subtitles have been included that are easy to follow and understand.
Extras include a trailer for Along Comes the Tiger, a still gallery and a six minute interview with Robert Tai that offers no insight into the main feature film. The main extra included for this release is an audio commentary with actor/producer Wang Tao and the track is moderated by Toby Russell. Wang Tao has a sharp memory as he discusses the various actors in the film, writing/producing films and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West which Along Comes the Tiger borrows many elements from.
Rarescope continues to raise the bar with their budget line of marital arts releases with Along Comes the Tiger their best DVD release to date, highly recommended.