Written by: Michael Den Boer on December 16th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: Taiwan, 1981
Director: Kei Law
Cast: Jackie Conn, Frankie Shum, Sam Chung-Chuen, Thomas Hong Chiu-Ming
DVD released: January 25th, 2011
Approximate running time: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: Apprehensive Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $12.95
Synopsis: Two crippled brothers, who have grown tired of living in the country. Move to the big city.
Crippled Masters 3: Fighting Life marks the third collaboration between Jackie Conn and Frankie Shum, who previously worked together on The Crippled Masters and Crippled Masters 2: Two Crippled Heroes. And according the IMDB they have a forth film together titled Raiders of the Shaolin Temple. For those who have yet to be exposed to any of these aforementioned films. The two leads, Jackie Conn has no legs and the other Frankie Shum has no arms.
This time around they play brothers, who are tired of the mundane lives they are living in the country. So they head for the big city. Right away they find it difficult to adjust as everyone looks down upon them because of their deformities. Fortunately they have a friend named Tiger, who helps them find work. Believing that learning a trade is the only way they can survive. The older portrayed by Frankie Shum is determined that his younger brother, who is portrayed by Jackie Conn become a wood sculpture. Only the younger brother has other ideas. He wants to be a world champion martial artist. Other characters who populate this film include a greedy landlady, a lone shark and his friend, who are looking for a hidden treasure and gangsters who pick on handicaps.
The best way to sum this film up is that it is a fish out water story. With the martial arts not being as prominent as it is in the other Crippled Masters films. The bulk of the martial arts takes past in the last thirty minutes. Also the inventiveness that was present in the other Crippled Masters films. Is all but missing in this film with only the film’s finale at a martial arts tournament featuring anything close to the crazy fights that are rampant in those aforementioned films. Another area where this film differs from its predecessors is that Jackie Conn and Frankie Shun spend most of their screen time apart. In fact most of Frankie Shun’s screen time is spent being a street performer who does tricks. He most elaborate trick being able to throw several coins at once with his toes into his pockets. And while this film takes on a more serious tone than its predecessors. The end result actually makes its two leads look like Circus side shows.
Crippled Masters 3: Fighting Life is presented in a 4:3 full frame aspect ratio. This is most definitely not the film’s original aspect ratio as things look tight framing wise. It should be noted that the IMDB lists this film’s original aspect ratio is 2.35:1. This source used for this transfer is obviously VHS based as there are many defects that are inherent to VHS that crop up throughout. Colors fluctuate, black levels look murky and details range from crisp to soft. Also there are some mild instances of combing present.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital stereo mix in English. There is noticeable background noise and distortion that varies in degree throughout. Once again dialog comes through clear enough to follow.
Extras for this release is limited to a unrelated short film titled ‘A Farewell to Arm’. Which about a father and son who’s arm wrestling match leads to a limb being lost. So while not exactly related to the main feature. I get the loose connection via missing limbs. Overall Crippled Masters 3: Fighting Life gets a lackluster DVD release from Apprehensive Films.