Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 25th, 2006
Release Date: Hong Kong, 1977
Director: Chung Wai
Cast: Hsu Feng, Yueh Hua, Lieh Lo
DVD released: May 23rd, 2006
Approximate running time: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital mono
DVD Release: BCI Eclipse/Rarescope
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $9.98
Chin Tien Wei has sent his three most promising disciples on mission to seek and destroy “Militant Dragon and Tiger”, “Devil Stars” and “Three Horrid Mice” the three most feared fighters in the world. Chin Tien Wei is elected chief of the marital arts world after his three disciples quickly dispose of these three feared fighters. All is not well as other fighters who refuse to accept Chin Tien Wei newly appointed position attempt to assassinate him. To make matters worse Chin Tien Wei learns that someone near him is about to betray him. Will he be able to expose the traitor and thwart all plans to assassinate him?
The Face behind the Mask quickly gets things going with a fury of hand to hand and weapons combat sequences. The story is interesting as it evolves at an even pace with fighting scenes perfectly timed around more dramatic moments. The characters are giving some albeit minor back story which is always a plus in films like these which all to often featured cardboard characters that do nothing more then fight. The fighting scenes all feature some sort of weapon which is kind of cool since hand to hand combat has been done so many times there really is not much left to do.
The three disciples’ are all unique crafted personas with the best one being a brilliant performance by Lo Lieh as Leng Yen-Ching. Lo Lieh has spent most of his career playing bad guys and in this film he gets to play against the type casting that often limited his range in many of his films. There are also plenty of red herrings and double dealings to look out for and near the end of the film things almost get so complicated that one is no longer completely sure who is on who’s side anymore.
Overall If you like wall to wall marital arts action then you will thoroughly enjoy The Face behind the Mask.
The Face Behind the mask is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Many martial arts films especially some of the rarer independently made ones have not been well preserved through the years which have lead too 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. The image looks too bright and colors look muted. There is noticeable print damage through out, still it never becomes too distracting. The image looks reasonably sharp overall. Despite its shortcomings this transfer is more then watch able and it is unlikely a better source will ever be found.
This release comes with one audio option the films original Mandarin language track which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. There is noticeable hiss and few moments where the audio sounds distorted. Dialog is clear and easy to follow. Burnt in Chinese and English subtitles have been included for this release that move at a moderate pace that is easy to follow and understand them. There are no problems with the burnt in subtitles which are white being obscured by white backgrounds or looking washed out.
Extras for this release include the films original trailer in Mandarin with burnt in Chinese and English subtitles. The only other extras include for this release is a six minute promo reel that shows the various Rarescope titles slated for future release.
The Face behind the Mask is the best film that Rarescope has released to date. Its more then reasonable price makes up for any of the audio/videos shortcomings.