Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 26th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: China / Hong Kong, 2014
Director: Teddy Chan
Writers: Teddy Chan, Ho Leung Lau, Tin Shu Mak
Cast: Donnie Yen, Charlie Yeung, Baoqiang Wang, Bing Bai, Deep Ng, Alex Fong, Kang Yu, Xing Yu, Siu-Wong Fan, David Chiang
BluRay released: July 21st, 2015
Approximate running time: 101 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Cantonese, DTS-HD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo Spanish, Dolby Digital Stereo French
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
BluRay Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
Synopsis: An imprisoned martial arts instructor convinces the police the let him work on their case involving Kung Fu experts who are being murdered by turning their own martial arts expertise against them.
Kung Fu Killer was co-written and directed by Teddy Chan whose other notable films include, Wait ‘Til you’re Older and Bodyguards and Assassins. Key collaborators on Kung Fu Killer include composer Peter Kam (Tokyo Raiders, Protégé) and cinematographer Wing-Hang Wong (A Better Tomorrow, The Killer). The original worldwide English language title for Kung Fu Killer was Kung Fu Jungle.
After years of being a leading man in action oriented films, it was refreshing to Donnie Yen (Ip Man, Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen)take a slight step backwards and let others handle the bulk of this film’s action set pieces. And though he does a have a few moments where he gets to showcase his fighting skills, like a scene very early on in the film while his character is still in prison. It is approach to this scene that shows a different side to him as his character decides to show restraint instead of his killer instincts as a fighter. Of course as the film progresses his fighting becomes more aggressive and by the time you get to this film’s finale, Donnie Yen is back to his old self as he shows why he is one of the best martial artists in the business. Also not that often discussed are his more dramatic moments and in regards to this film he does a very good expressing his characters emotions.
Cast in the role of the villain is Baoqiang Wang (Lost in Thailand, A Touch of Sin). His character Fung Yu-Sau has a deformity which greatly adds to the way he fights. Also this characters is driven by the death of his wife, she died from cancer. And performance wise he does not miss a beat in the role of the villain. Other performances of note include Charlie Yeung (Fallen Angels, New Police Story) in the role of Detective Luk Yuen-Sum and Bing Bai in the role of Sinn Ying, she plays Donnie Yen’s characters love interest. Another area where this film excels is the why it employs nods to Hong Kong cinema’s past with dozen of cameo’s from those were involved in Hong Kong during its golden age.
When one just looks at what this film presents superficially it looks like yet another run of the mill action film that retreads well-worn ground. Fortunately for those have yet to become jaded participants when it comes to martial arts cinema. There is actually more to this film then bunch of action sequences. The film explores themes like loyalty, vengeance and redemption.
The film’s narrative is tightly constructed and pacing is never an issues as things are always moving along briskly. And when it comes to back-stories all of the main players are well defined and their motivations are crystal clear. Then there are the action set pieces they are well executed, which are further bolstered by the fact that each one features a different fighting style. Needless to say that these action set pieces are well executed, inventive and most importantly always fun to watch.
Kung Fu Killer comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This transfer does a superb job retaining the intended look of the film. Contrast and black levels look consistently strong and details look sharp throughout. Also there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with four audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Cantonese and a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English, a Dolby Digital stereo mix in Spanish and a Dolby Digital stereo mix in French. There is a wealth of audio choices included with this release, with the two DTS-HD mixes being the strongest of these audio mixes. Range wise both audio mixes deliver the goods and then some. And when it comes to dialog is always clear and everything sounds balanced. Of course the most desirable mix of these DTS-HD tracks is the Cantonese track which is also this film’s native language. Also included with this are three subtitles options, a English, French and Spanish.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (1 minute 55 seconds, in Cantonese with English, Spanish and French subtitles), four making of segments (2 minutes 30 seconds / 2 minutes 21 seconds / 2 minutes 34 seconds / 2 minutes 49 seconds in Cantonese with English, Spanish and French subtitles). Content wise these ‘making of’ segments featuring a wealth of onset footage that has an occasional comment from the cast & crew. Rounding out the extras are trailers for Iceman and Police Story Lockdown. Overall Kung Fu Killer gets a first rate audio / video presentation from Well Go USA.
Note: This film is also being released by Well Go USA on DVD.