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Five Shaolin Masters (Dragon Dynasty) 
Written by: on August 22nd, 2011

Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1974
Director: Cheh Chang
Writer: Kuang Ni
Cast: David Chiang, Lung Ti, Sheng Fu, Kuan-Chun Chi, Fei Meng, Lung Wei Wang, Ka-Yan Leung

DVD released: August 9th, 2011
Approximate running time: 110 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Mandarin, Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, English SDH
DVD Release: Arc Entertainment / Dragon Dynasty
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.99

Synopsis: The Qing court hires five deadly assassins to destroy the Shaolin temple. The Shaolin disciples are caught off guard because there is a traitor among them who helped plan the ambush. Only five of the disciples survive the attack. They decided to go into hiding and regroup when their martial arts skills have improved. Will these disciples of Shaolin be able to avenge their fallen master or will they fall prey to the emperor’s assassins?

Though, Five Shoalin Masters follows your basic martial arts premise of student avenging his fallen master. The story moves along at a brisk pace and the action sequences are expertly executed. The films main action set piece is when the Five Shaolin Masters train for six months sharpening their skills for the final showdown. This sequence like most training sequences in action films is done through a series of quick shots known as a montage. One stand out character is Bao Yolung, who disposes of his opponents with his flying axe. The five leads are given plenty to do throughout the film which gives this film a more balanced ensemble feel. The action sequences which are the films strongest assets where designed by Liu Chia-liang and Liu Chia-yung.

The DVD:

Dragon Dynasty presents Five Shaolin Masters in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original ‘Shawscope’ aspect ratio. This is another strong transfer from Dragon Dynasty that improves upon previous DVD releases of this film. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, black and contrast levels look consistently good and details look crisp throughout. There are no problems with compression and the image remains stable throughout. Also this new transfer from Dragon Dynasty is proper NTSC transfer and not a standard conversion like the region 3 DVD release from IVL / Celestial.

This release comes with two audio options, a Dolby Digital Mono mix in Mandarin and a Dolby Digital Mono mix in English. Though both audio mixes are in good shape, the Mandarin audio mix sounds more robust. Dialog always comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. The English subtitles have many instances where they are different than what is being said during the English ‘dubbed’ audio mix and they do not appear to be ‘dub titles’.

Extras for this release are limited to a promo for titles available from Dragon Dynasty. Overall Five Shaolin Masters gets a strong audio / video presentation from Dragon Dynasty.

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